Eduardo Rodriguez will no longer be starting for the Red Sox on Opening Day next Thursday, manager Alex Cora announced Friday.
The reason being, Rodriguez is dealing with dead arm coming off his fourth start of the spring in his last time out against the Rays on Monday.
The 27-year-old left-hander had put together an impressive spring up until that point, but he lasted just two innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks to go go along with one strikeout over the course of his most recent outing before tossing two more simulated innings in the bullpen.
“As you guys know, the last one wasn’t a great one as far as his stuff and his body,” Cora said of Rodriguez’s last start. “We’ve been very straightforward with him. His body is going to dictate what we do with him. So his schedule got pushed back. He was supposed to throw a bullpen two days ago. He didn’t throw it. He played catch yesterday. He felt fine. So with the schedule the way it is, he won’t be able to post on Thursday.”
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will start in Rodriguez’s place against the Orioles on Thursday.
Rodriguez came into the spring having missed the entirety of the 2020 campaign after contracting myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) following a bout with COVID-19 over the summer.
The fact that the Venezuelan hurler is coming off something as unique to baseball as myocarditis already meant the Red Sox would monitor him closely, but it turns out this latest setback is not COVID-related.
“I think it’s just dead arm,” Cora explained. “He didn’t feel as strong as the previous outings. Arm-wise, the shoulder, there’s nothing specific there… He pushed hard for Thursday. But I think the smart thing from my end and from our end is to play it smart. Take the decision out of the player, and we made the decision for him.”
Because of these arm issues, Rodriguez had fallen behind in his ramp-up towards April 1 to the point where it no longer made sense for him to get the nod on Opening Day. He was originally named Boston’s Opening Day starter last week.
“It sucks for him,” Cora said empathetically. “Going into ’20, he was supposed to be the Opening Day starter. Going into ’21, we announced it. And now he’s not. But like I told him yesterday, I said, ‘Hey man, the way you throw the ball, the way your career is going, at one point in your career you will be an Opening Day starter — maybe more than once.”
Cora praised Rodriguez for his professionalism in how he took the disappointing news and also acknowledged that it’s unlikely the lefty will start the season on the injured list.
“I think we’re getting ahead of that,” said the Sox skipper. “We’re going to wait for him to show up today and see how he feels after playing catch yesterday. He felt good. Next step is to throw a bullpen, so when he throws a bullpen then we’ll address the situation again.”
That bullpen session for Rodriguez will come some time on Saturday, and Cora said he will more information about Rodriguez’s status moving forward after that.
(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)