KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Shortly after speaking with the media here late Friday night, Carlos Rodon walked into Aaron Boone’s office in the visiting clubhouse and closed the door.
It still was shut when the media departed about 15 minutes later.
The discussion was only tangentially related to Rodon’s historically bad performance earlier in the night, when he became the first starting pitcher in franchise history to allow eight runs without recording an out in what became a 12-5 loss to the Royals.
During the nightmarish first inning, Matt Blake came out to talk to Rodon, who turned his back on the pitching coach and appeared to gesture with his glove that Blake should go back to the dugout.
Boone said “we wanted better mound presence there” and said he understood the bad optics surrounding it.
He said after the game that “my first take” upon seeing it unfold was that it was a blatant act of disrespect toward Blake but that he wanted to “hear everything around it,” the primary topic of the closed-door meeting.
“What happened is not acceptable and something we wanted to make sure we addressed properly,” Boone said before Saturday night’s game against the Royals. “But we do feel like we’re in a good spot [after talking to Rodon]. There’s no ill intentions there on Carlos’ part. He and I spoke last night in my office and had a good conversation about a lot of things. Hopefully we’ll move on in a good way.”
Rodon, who went 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA in an overwhelmingly awful first year in the Bronx after signing a six-year, $162 million free-agent deal, did not attempt to excuse his actions.
“I’m sure it was [seen as disrespectful toward Blake]. It wasn’t great. Definitely not the best move. Shouldn’t happen,” Rodon said. “I was frustrated with myself and my performance. Really embarrassing, and then doing that with Matt coming out trying to help me, I turn my back. I was not in the right mind, that’s for sure, and that’s on me.”
Rodon said he had not yet apologized to Blake but planned to “after cooling off.”
“[He] is probably not happy with me right now,” Rodon said.
That apology took place on Saturday.
“Obviously, not ideal,” Blake said Saturday of Friday’s interaction. “You’re a little disappointed in the moment and how it’s being handled. But any time you go out in the arena like that and the emotions are running high, especially with him, you know at times it’s what makes him great, it also can be his undoing. Those type of things can happen. It’s not what you’re looking for or the way you want it to be handled, but at the same time, you understand [it’s] born out of a place of frustration in himself and the situation we’re in. You try to take it all in perspective.”
Blake characterized Rodon as being “remorseful” and “apologetic.”
“We covered some good ground and felt we landed in a good spot,” Blake said.
Friday was not the first time Rodon, who came to the Yankees with the reputation of not always being able to keep his emotions in check, saw those emotions flare up. Walking off the mound after a poor start July 19 in Anaheim, where he allowed six runs, four hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings, Rodon blew a kiss to a collection of Yankees fans heckling him behind the visiting team dugout.
“It’s something hopefully we continue to grow from,” Boone said. “Obviously, he’s had a really difficult year. It’s one of those things that circumstances dictate it. Sometimes you see a guy that’s in the middle of a great year that’s showing that kind of emotion, and it’s a different storyline.”
Rodon, who because of a forearm strain and subsequent back issue that cropped up toward the end of his rehab didn’t debut this season until July 7, recently had shown at least some signs of the pitcher the Yankees signed in the offseason. He had a 3.50 ERA in his previous three starts before Friday night’s implosion capped an overall forgettable 2023.
“Pretty disappointing,” he said of his year. “There’s not much else to say about it.”