ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Detroit Tigers left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez signaled to manager A.J. Hinch in the dugout with one out in the first inning. He exited Wednesday's start moments later, following a brief mound visit from athletic trainer Doug Teter.
The 29-year-old suffered a left-side injury.
"I felt a little pinch on my side," Rodriguez said.
Hinch said Rodriguez likely needs a stint on the injured list.
"He'll be down for a bit," Hinch said.
Six of seven batters reached safely against Rodriguez, whose four-seam fastball averaged 89.5 mph. He primarily relied on his changeup and cutter against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Rodriguez removed himself from his outing.
"When I was warming up in the bullpen, I felt a pinch on my side," Rodriguez said. "I wasn't able to throw the ball as hard as I can. We're going to see what it is, and we'll see from there. ... I'm going to check with the doctors and everything, then we'll see what it is."
He threw 23 pitches, 11 for strikes.
"Looks like his left side is bothersome," Hinch said after Wednesday's 6-1 loss at Tropicana Field. "He said he could go. He never really felt anything during the week and increasingly got worse during his warmup. He tried to go out there. You could kind of tell he was off."
The Tigers signed Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million contract in November. He entered Wednesday with a 3.72 ERA but the short outing against the Rays raised it to 4.38. He has issued 17 walks and 34 strikeouts in 39 innings across eight starts.
The Rays loaded the bases with three consecutive singles: Yandy Diaz (88.2 mph fastball), Wander Franco (83.4 mph changeup) and Harold Ramirez (86.5 mph cutter).
Then, Rodriguez walked Randy Arozarena on four pitches.
Francisco Mejia continued the attack with a two-run single to left field, giving the Rays a 3-0 advantage. Isaac Paredes flied out to center field for Rodriguez's first — and only — out of the game.
Vidal Brujan's five-pitch walk ended Rodriguez's start.
"He motioned at the same time I was walking out," Hinch said.
"We made a decision to come out of the game," Rodriguez said.
For his 23 pitches, Rodriguez used eight changeups, eight cutters, six four-seam fastballs and one sinker. He earned one swing and miss, with his changeup, and three called strikes.
Rodriguez's fastball usually averages 91.9 mph.
"At points in the year, we're all dealing with stuff," catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "I commend Eduardo for trying to pitch through things. I hate that he's got something that's bugging him. But we just got to get him right, get him healthy."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Eduardo Rodriguez exits start vs. Rays early