Rodriguez looked the part on Saturday. In his first outing for the Pirates of any kind since walking off the mound with a strained forearm on June 5, Rodriguez held the Rays hitless for the first inning of the Pirates' 10-inning, 2-2 tie with the Rays.
Rodriguez did allow an unearned run when a pair of errors escorted home Sean Rodriguez -- whom he had hit with his second pitch -- but he threw free and easy and hard, fanning Matt Joyce and Logan Forsythe.
"My first pitch, I felt a little nervous," Rodriguez said. "I don't know how to explain it now, but I felt something ... when we [pitchers] go out after not throwing for a long time, we think a lot about how we will feel, so that's normal."
"After that first pitch," manager Clint Hurdle said, "we got to see that confidence build as the inning went on. This was a big step forward for him."
"The key is concentration, putting the ball wherever I want," Rodriguez said. "And that's what I did. It was very good. I got everything going today. I don't feel nothing."
Asked whether he felt "normal" then, Rodriguez answered emphatically, "Yeah."
"I threw every pitch. Curve, two- and four-seam fastball," Rodriguez said. "About 15 [pitches]. When I finished that first inning, I felt very good about it."
Rodriguez was scheduled for only that one frame. He will next throw a side session in between sets of two off-days, then he'll aim to go two or three innings in his next start.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.