Yankees address Carlos Rodon's clash with coach Matt Blake

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Saturday, September 30, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Yankees manager Aaron Boone was still smoothing over some clubhouse discord with two games left in a lost season Saturday after Carlos Rodón and pitching coach Matt Blake clashed on the mound the previous night.

Rodón was in the midst of allowing all eight batters he faced to reach base and eventually score in a 12-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals when Blake came out the dugout in an attempt to get him on track. The two exchanged a few words before Rodón turned his back on Blake and gestured for him to return to the dugout, even though the coach was still talking.

"Obviously we don't want that happening," said Boone, whose team needed to win one of its last two games against the Royals to extend its streak of winning seasons to 31. "Things happen in the heat of battle, but it's been addressed."

Rodón admitted he was "not in the right mind" when he turned his back on his pitching coach.

Rodón had a miserable first year of a $162 million, six-year contract he signed with the Yankees. It began with a stay on the injured list for a strained forearm and included a setback while he dealt with a back injury. Rodón lost four of his first five starts after finally making his season debut July 7, and his dismal performance Friday night left him with a 6.85 ERA and the Yankees with a 3-11 record in his starts.

That may have been why Rodón, who is known for his fiery demeanor, appeared to finally boil over in Kansas City.

In 35 pitches without recording an out, Rodón allowed four singles, two walks, a double and Edward Oliveras' no-doubt homer into the Yankees bullpen. It was the most batters faced without recording an out by a starter since Steven Matz faced eight for the Mets in 2019, and the 10 consecutive hitters that eventually reached for Kansas City were the most to start a game against the Yankees since the Cleveland Indians had that many reach against Catfish Hunter and Bob Kammeyer on July 27, 1978.

Blake said he wasn't able to connect with Rodón after the game Friday night, but the two spoke at length early Saturday.

"He's been in the league for a while. We want him to go out and have a lot of success and behave in the right ways," Blake said, "and you know, this is one were going to look back on and wish we had back."

It wasn't just Rodón's attitude that was cause for concern, either. His fastball averaged 93.6 mph, down from his 95.3 mph season average, and the Royals took advantage by squaring up just about every pitch in the strike zone.

"Last night was a little surprising," Blake said, adding that he didn't think the drop in velocity was injury related. "Sometimes he settles into the flow of the game and he didn't get to that point last night. It's something we will continue to look into."

Boone went further and said Rodón had made himself available to pitch in the final two games of the season.

"That should tell you where he's at physically I think," Boone said.

In other news, "He's been in the league for a while. We want him to go out and have a lot of success and behave in the right ways," Blake said, "and you know, this is one were going to look back on and wish we had back."

In other news Saturday, the Yankees reinstated right-hander Frankie Montas from the 60-day injured list, transferred outfielder Jasson Domínguez to the same list and optioned right-hander Randy Vásquez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Montas had surgery on his labrum Feb. 21 in Los Angeles, an injury that had limited him after last season's trade from Oakland to the Yankees. He began a Triple-A rehab assignment on Sept. 17 and pitched two scoreless innings last Saturday, and Boone said he deserved an opportunity to pitch this season after working so hard to get healthy. Montas' last big league appearance was in the 2022 AL Championship Series opener on Oct. 19.

"He's worked hard to get himself back and want to go out there, albeit the last weekend of the season," Boone said.

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