Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon throws in the third inning...

Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon throws in the third inning of a spring training game against the Red Sox on Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. Credit: AP/Charlie Neibergall

TAMPA, Fla. – Aaron Boone said the loss of Gerrit Cole for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time doesn’t increase the pressure on Carlos Rodon going into 2024.

The lefthander’s 2023 already guaranteed he’d be feeling plenty of it.

“I don’t think Carlos needs any more pressure than the perceived pressure that’s on him,” Boone said. “Coming in last year and going through the injury situation he had and then having a down year and not performing up to his standard. There’s plenty of noise around that, with Gerrit Cole here or Gerrit Cole out.”

Rodon, signed to a six-year, $162 million contract before last season, started 2023 on the injured list and struggled when he came off it in July, going 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA in 14 starts.

He had been mostly unimpressive this spring, until Wednesday against the Red Sox when Rodon allowed one run and one hit over four innings in which he struck out three and did not walk a batter. His fastball velocity – in the low 90s in his previous start March 6 against the Rays when he allowed three runs and five hits, including two homers, in three innings – sat 94-95 mph on Wednesday, peeking at 96, according to a rival AL scout in attendance.

“A bit better today with fastball velocity and ride action,” the evaluator said.

Said Rodon: “Today I got to build some confidence. The last start was a little rocky as we know, but the good thing about the last start, if I reflect on that, I got to work some cutters and changeups. As we know the fastball velocity wasn’t there, but I had the pitch a little more today. The stuff showed up…and we just featured mostly fastball-slider. So, got to build confidence with the 1-2 punch, fastball-slider, and the velocity was there, so that was nice.”

Rodon, whose locker in the home clubhouse at Steinbrenner Field is next to Cole’s, did not completely dismiss feeling additional pressure with the ace out indefinitely, but said, “that’s part of the game.”

Injuries have been a part of Rodon’s career for much of his nine years in the big leagues, and the 31-year-old is counting down the days until the start of the regular season, which begins March 28 in Houston (Rodon is likely to start the second game of that four-game set, with Marcus Stroman starting Opening Day).

“It’s going to be nice to start off the season and actually pitch [the] opening weekend, or whatever day it is,” Rodon said. “It’s going to be nice. I don’t want to miss any more Opening Days, that’s for sure.”

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