Nathan Eovaldi named Red Sox’ Opening Day starter

For the third consecutive year, Nathan Eovaldi has been named the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter, manager Alex Cora announced on Wednesday.

The news comes after Cora revealed earlier this week that Eovaldi would make his first spring training start against the Rays on Friday, lining the right-hander up to get the Opening Day nod on regular rest against the Yankees in the Bronx on April 7.

Eovaldi, who turned 32 last month, is entering the final season of the four-year, $68 million contract he signed with the Red Sox in December 2018. He is coming off a career-best 2021 campaign in which he posted a 3.75 ERA and 2.79 FIP to go along with 195 strikeouts to 35 walks over 32 starts spanning 182 1/3 innings of work while also being named an All-Star for the first time and finishing fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting.

This off-season, Eovaldi spent his winter at home in Houston, throwing bullpens at least once a week to catcher Connor Wong. He did not face hitters during that time, but did so as part of a two-inning live batting practice session at Fenway South on Tuesday.

With that, Eovaldi is expected to go another two innings in his upcoming Grapefruit League start against Tampa Bay at JetBlue Park. The veteran hurler told reporters on Tuesday that he believes he can be stretched out to 100 pitches by the time his name is called on Opening Day.

Since Eovaldi is slated to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2022 season, he was also asked about his future in Boston. The ACES client responded by saying he has spoken with his agents about exploring a new deal before the year is over.

“I’m very open to staying here with the Red Sox,” Eovaldi said. “I haven’t been in this situation. I usually try not to focus on it.”

As for how the rest of the Sox’ starting rotation will shake out to begin the year, Cora said Wednesday that it is still a work in progress. Chris Sale, of course, is out of the equation since the left-hander will miss the start of the 2022 season due to a stress fracture in his right rib cage.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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