FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox already have played four games in spring training. Christian Vazquez doesn’t want too many more to pass by before he gets back behind the plate.
The catcher pronounced himself ready to go on Saturday after catching two innings from David Price during a simulated game at JetBlue Park.
“I feel great. Today I feel like I’m ready to play. Let’s see what happens,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez, 25, had Tommy John elbow surgery 11 months ago. He started a throwing program last summer but only in recent weeks has been throwing to bases.
In each inning on Saturday, teammate Rusney Castillo was put on first base and told to break for second. Vazquez popped up and made a quick throw each time. Both were strong, but a bit high.
“A little up, but that is normal [for this time of the year]. I need to get that ball down. I feel great. No pain, no nothing,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez said he woke up at 5 a.m. and was ready to go to the park. He plans to talk to the coaching staff on Sunday about when he can get into a real game.
“I let it go today, 100 percent,” he said. “I feel fine. I feel like I’m ready to play in games.”
How well Vazquez’s arm bounces back from playing will determine his readiness. The Sox have said for months that they’re comfortable with the idea of Vazquez starting the season with Triple A Pawtucket and building up methodically.
In Blake Swihart and Ryan Hanigan, the Sox have ample depth and can afford patience with Vazquez.
Price has come to learn why other Sox pitchers rave about Vazquez and compare him to Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
“He makes my job easy. He really does. That’s not taking anything away from the other catchers that we have here in camp,” Price said. “He wants to be back there; he wants to work. That’s always good to see. Make pitches to him, you might make a really good pitch that’s a ball. But he makes it look so good . . . He does a fantastic job back there.”
Eduardo Rodriguez threw for the fourth consecutive day, playing catch out to 90 feet for about eight minutes. The lefthander briefly dislocated his right kneecap on Feb. 27 and has not thrown off a mound since.
Rodriguez still has some swelling in his knee. The Red Sox do not want to take the mound until that has dissipated.
“He continues to get better each day and he had a very good day today,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “We’re excited about that. We want to be cautious and careful and yet we’re not going to hold him back.”
Willis said Rodriguez needs to be confident that his knee can withstand the impact of pitching on the mound.
“He’s gaining that confidence,” Willis said.
On the mound
Carlos Marmol and Roenis Elias each pitched an inning in the simulated game. Each threw 19 pitches. Marmol lacked command and hit Vazquez with one of his pitches . . . The Sox host the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday. Clay Buchholz gets the start. Henry Owens will face the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park on Monday afternoon with Noe Ramirez, Robbie Ross Jr., and Tommy Layne in relief.