Red Sox reliever Joely Rodriguez has a Grade 2 right oblique strain, manager Alex Cora announced Monday.
Rodriguez suffered a right side injury in the eighth inning of Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles at JetBlue Park. After throwing his 13th pitch, the left-hander grabbed at his side and was immediately taken out of the game.
While heading back to the clubhouse with a member of the the Red Sox’ training staff, Rodriguez could be heard groaning in discomfort. The club initially described the issue as right torso pain, but the southpaw underwent further imaging in the form of an MRI and received a more concrete diagnosis as a result.
When speaking with reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) following Monday’s 7-5 loss to the Pirates in Fort Myers, Cora could not provide a specific timetable for when Rodriguez could return to action.
“Timetable is whenever he’s ready,” Cora said. “We’ve just got to attack it and get him healthy.”
As noted by Speier, a Grade 2 — or moderate — oblique strain typically comes with a six-to-eight week shutdown period, meaning Rodriguez would not be ready to pitch in big-league games for another two-plus months. If that winds up being the case, that would be a tough blow for the 31-year-old after signing one-year deal with the Red Sox in November that guarantees $2 million and comes with a $4.25 million club option for 2024.
Rodriguez, who spent the 2022 season with the Mets, underwent minor shoulder surgery before signing with Boston in the fall. The Dominican-born hurler was expected to be ready for Opening Day and was being ramped up slowly this spring, but Monday’s news obviously changes that trajectory.
Now, the Red Sox will be tasked with identifying another lefty to pair with Richard Bleier out of the bullpen. Cora has already named Oddanier Mosqueda and Ryan Sherriff as two possible candidates, but he also ruled out using top pitching prospects such as Chris Murphy and Brandon Walter, who are slated to begin the year in Triple-A Worcester’s starting rotation.
Both Mosqueda and Sherriff were in camp as non-roster invitees earlier this spring. The former, who does not turn 24 until May, has allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings of Grapefruit League play but has yet to pitch above the Double-A level.
Sherriff, meanwhile, made his sixth appearance of the spring on Monday and struck out in a scoreless eighth inning. The 32-year-old has yet to a surrender an earned run across 5 2/3 frames and, unlike Mosqueda, has prior major-league experience.
The Red Sox, of course, could also look to the trade market or waiver wire if they want to add to their bullpen externally. Regardless of which route they take, placing Rodriguez on the 60-day injured list before Opening Day would clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
(Picture of Joely Rodriguez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)