Red Sox reliever Joely Rodriguez will likely start the season on the injured list, manager Alex Cora said Sunday.
Rodriguez suffered a right side injury in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 9-6 win over the Orioles at JetBlue Park. After throwing his 13th pitch, the left-hander grabbed at his side and left the game with a trainer. He was “groaning in pain as he went to the clubhouse,” according to Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe.
When speaking with reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) ahead of Sunday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Phillies in Clearwater, Red Sox manager Alex Cora indicated that Rodriguez was dealing with some sort of oblique injury after initially being diagnosed with right torso pain.
“Sore this morning,” Cora said of Rodriguez. “We feel it’s the oblique area, but he’s going to get imaging tomorrow so we’ll know more. It looks like it’s going to be an IL kind of thing. How long? We’ll know more tomorrow.”
Rodriguez, 31, signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox in November that guarantees $2 million and comes with a $4.25 million club option for 2024. The Dominican-born southpaw was expected to be one of Boston’s top left-handed relief options alongside Richard Bleier.
Now that Rodriguez is slated to miss time, the Red Sox will have to look elsewhere if they intend on adding a second lefty to the bullpen mix. On Sunday, Cora identified 32-year-old Ryan Sherriff and 23-year-old Oddanier Mosqueda, who were both at camp as non-roster invitees, as potential internal candidates.
Sherriff, who has allowed one unearned run in 4 2/3 innings of work this spring, has made 44 career relief appearances at the big-league level between the Cardinals (2017-2018) and Rays (2020-2022). Mosqueda, who has allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings, has yet to make his major-league debut, though he is coming off a strong 2022 season with Double-A Portland.
“He throws strikes and has deception,” Cora said of Mosqueda. “Analytics-wise, his stuff is really good. He can go multiple innings, too.”
Additionally, Cora ruled out the possibility of using pitching prospects like Brandon Walter and Chris Murphy out of the bullpen, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The two talented lefties are instead expected to begin the year in Triple-A Worcester’s starting rotation.
If the Red Sox were to look externally for left-handed relief options, then one would have to assume that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. are closely monitoring the trade market and waiver wire as Opening Day approaches.
As noted by Browne, though, the club will have a better idea of where things stand with Rodriguez and his injury timeline in the coming days. That, too, will be worth monitoring.
(Picture of Joely Rodriguez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)