"The first start I made in Pawtucket, I was thinking too much on my knee," Rodriguez said. "Every pitch I'm throwing, I'm thinking like 'Don't push too much.' But last night, it was every pitch I'm throwing just thinking of the game and not my knee."
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Rodriguez also got better results (six innings, five hits, three runs) than last Thursday (3 2/3 innings, six hits, three runs).
Rodriguez threw 84 pitches Tuesday, and he will make at least one more outing for the PawSox on Sunday.
"I just want to get back as fast as I can," he said. "But I want to get back 100 percent. I don't want to get back at 70 percent."
As important as Rodriguez is to the Red Sox, the club is determined not to rush him back from the patella subluxation he suffered on Feb. 27.
"We'd like to get him upwards of 90 to 100 pitches this next time out, and we're hopeful he will make the same strides he made between the first and second starts on rehab," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I think with each outing he's getting, he's gaining more confidence and feeling more maybe natural and free on the mound. We'll assess after he gets through Sunday's game."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.