Fastball. Ball one.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the ball back from catcher Jake Romanski, and threw his second pitch.

Fastball. Home run. Rodriguez got a new ball and pitched again.

Fastball. Ball one … Fastball. Ball two … Fastball. Double.

Unperturbed, Rodriguez gloved another ball and stepped on the mound.

“Just getting my work in,” Rodriguez said later.

The Boston Red Sox left-hander made a rehab start Thursday with the Portland Sea Dogs – his first time at Hadlock Field since he made his debut with the Red Sox organization in 2014.

Back then, Rodriguez had a 0.96 ERA in six starts for the Sea Dogs.

On Thursday, he got hit often, giving up eight hits over the first two innings. He lasted three innings and ended up with a line of nine hits, six runs (five earned), no walks and three strikeouts – all in the third inning.

“All my pitches were right where I wanted,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the good part. Everything was good.”

Before we jump on Rodriguez for his Pollyanna response to get batted around by the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, realize this was part spring training, part workout for Rodriguez. So, when he says he was just getting his work in, he’s not downplaying Thursday’s performance.

Rodriguez threw 69 pitches, 47 for strikes. Afterward, he headed for the bullpen to throw 10 more pitches.

This was Rodriguez’s first game since June 1 in Baltimore. That game was a problem before it started. Rodriguez slipped in the bullpen. It was not determined until later that he suffered a right knee subluxation. Rodriguez pitched anyway and gave up seven runs on eight hits – four of them home runs – over 52/3 innings.

It was only the second time Rodriguez gave up more than three runs this season – the other time came in his first start (four runs). He is 4-2 with a 3.54 ERA, an improvement over his 3-7, 4.71 numbers last year.

“Much better command,” Rodriguez explained.

He looked like the pitcher Boston was hoping he’d become when they acquired him from Baltimore in a trade for Andrew Miller.

Going into the season, Rodriguez looked to be the No. 4 or 5 starter. But with Rick Porcello (4-10) struggling and David Price not yet in form, Rodriguez was Boston’s second-best option after Chris Sale.

Then came the stumble in the Camden Yards bullpen.

Rodriguez’s knee can be troublesome, but he did not give it a thought on Thursday.

“No. It felt really good,” Rodriguez said. “Just threw my pitches. I threw all my pitches – cutter, slider, change-up, fastball. All good.”

And did it matter that several of those pitches got hit? The Fisher Cats went 9 for 17 against him, including Jonathan Davis’ leadoff home run to left-center.

“In the minor leagues, they swing a lot. That was good. It made me compete against the hitters,” Rodriguez said. “Things didn’t work out how I wanted … But I commanded my pitches.”

We need to differentiate between rehab command and major league command.

In a major league game, catcher Christian Vazquez would be calling for pitches according to a game plan and scouting reports. Rodriguez would have to be more precise.

On Thursday, catcher Jake Romanski was calling pitches according to Rodriguez’s need. The idea was to throw strikes with all of his pitches. And if those pitches got smacked … just get Rodriguez another ball.

“He didn’t execute,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said, “but he went back to Boston healthy. That’s the main thing.”

After the game, Rodriguez was hurrying to catch up with the major league team in Boston before its flight to Toronto late Thursday night.

“I don’t know (what’s next),” he said. “I have to go talk to them.”

It seems improbable that Rodriguez is ready to be activated by the Red Sox. Chances are good that his next start, likely July 4, will be in the minors. The Sea Dogs will be home again that night against the Fisher Cats, while Triple-A Pawtucket is in Rochester.

Rodriguez needs more work, and Sea Dogs fans might get one more look before he rejoins the Red Sox.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: ClearTheBases