Blue Jays’ Rodriguez dealing with back spasms, scheduled for bullpen Saturday

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Yariel Rodriguez throws during a baseball spring training workout Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Dunedin, Fla. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider said Friday that right-handed pitcher Yariel Rodriguez has been behind schedule this spring training after suffering back spasms during a recent live batting practice session.

The Blue Jays’ off-season acquisition took a break after the session, but is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Saturday.

Schneider called the delay “not overly concerning,” and added that Rodriguez is “feeling 100 per cent right now.

“That was kind of our plan, to take it slow and really get him acclimated. But he should have enough time to hopefully ramp up to multiple innings when he does get into games.”

Rodriguez signed a five-year, $32 million deal with Toronto in January after spending 2020 through 2022 with NPB’s Chunici Dragons. He didn’t pitch professionally in 2023 after making two appearances for Cuba at the World Baseball Classic.

In his last pro season with the Dragons, the 26-year-old posted a 1.15 ERA and struck out 60 hitters over 54.1 innings out of the bullpen.

For Cuba, he made two starts, allowed two runs and struck out 10 in 7.1 innings.

A six-foot tall righty, Rodriguez is expected to build up as a starter this spring and join the group of pitchers in competition for a spot in Toronto’s rotation.

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