More than a week after stepping on a cactus in his back yard, right-hander Francisco Rodriguez still is pulling spines from his sore left foot. Regardless of the significant pain he's feeling at times, Rodriguez also has managed to pitch two scoreless innings in spring training for the Milwaukee Brewers since returning to aptly named Cactus League play. That's the best anyone could hope for in such a prickly situation.
Via MLB.com, Rodriguez told reporters he pulled a total of six or seven spines from his foot Sunday and Monday morning before retiring all three batters he faced Monday afternoon against the White Sox. But he's not anywhere close to getting them all. And as all right-handers do, Rodriguez lands on his left foot when he pitches. The pain has to be incredible.
He took off his sock and showed reporters the bottom of his foot, which is still dotted with dozens of buried spines. As the swelling subsides in his foot, more are emerging to be plucked, but one clump in a tender area of his mid-foot continues to cause significant pain.
Asked how he was feeling, Rodriguez said, "About the same. It's not getting any worse. It's getting better, but I landed so hard out there, you still can feel it. I thought by now the pain should go away, but it hasn't. You just have to be patient. The good thing is it hasn't held me out from doing my routine and my workouts."
Mind over matter. Just like those gurus of eastern medicine who walk on hot coals or a bed of nails. K-Rod has always been ... different. But getting back to how Rodriguez came to step on a cactus in the first place. Here's how he explained it to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. It's pretty simple, actually:
[I]t was getting dark Monday evening (March 10) and he went outside to tell his son to come in. Rodriguez wasn’t wearing shoes and said he never saw the cactus he stepped on.
“I was walking around and just felt it when I stepped on it,” he said. “As soon as I stepped on it, I went on the ground and looked at my foot and there were spines all over my foot. I just jumped on one leg [back to the house] and started pulling it out with my hand. I left a lot in there because it was too painful and my foot swelled up.
“The next day [an off day], I tried to take some more out and I couldn’t because it was too swollen so I couldn’t see the spines. I couldn’t even put my foot on the ground and that’s when I called the trainers and told them what happened. If I have my foot in the air, it doesn’t bother me at all. But as soon as I hit something, I can feel the pain right away.”
Much respect to K-Rod for handling — footing? — pitching with many cactus spines in his foot. Cactus League hall of famer, for sure. Considering he has a guaranteed contract and is virtually assured of making the team anyway, Rodriguez could stay out of action longer, but he's fighting through the cactus mishap.
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