Powered by strong performances from Alex Verdugo and Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox extend winning streak to 9 consecutive games with 7-1 victory over Twins to sweep doubleheader

A half-hour intermission between games during Wednesday’s doubleheader at Target Field could not slow Alex Verdugo down, as the outfielder once again played a key role in the Red Sox’ 7-1 victory over the Twins in Game 2 of the twin bill.

After making a game-saving catch for the final out of the day cap, Verdugo picked up where he left off by going 3-for-4 at the plate in the night cap.

Matched up against another tough opponent in Twins right-hander Jose Berrios, it took the Sox offense as a whole some time to get going on Wednesday, but they eventually broke through in the fifth.

There, already trailing by a run, a one-out single off the bat of Bobby Dalbec filled the bases for Franchy Cordero, who proceeded to draw a four-pitch walk to drive in his side’s first run of the night.

The Twins then pulled Berrios for Tyler Duffey, though the stalemate they had put themselves in did not last all that long.

That being the case because with two outs in the frame and the bases still loaded, Verdugo drilled a two-run, go-ahead single to right field to give the Sox their first lead of the night.

A wild pitch from Duffey allowed Cordero to score from third to make it a 4-1 contest, and two more walks once again filled the bases for Rafael Devers.

Devers, who led off the top of the fifth with a double, greeted new Twins left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar by lacing a two-run single to right, which gave the Red Sox a 6-1 edge in the late stages.

Verdugo provided some insurance in the seventh by taking Thielbar deep to right field on a a down-and-in fastball for his second home run of the season.

The 24-year-old’s 406-foot blast put Boston up 7-1, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

Rodriguez pulls it together for 5 strong frames

Another game, another Red Sox starter providing five solid innings of work on Wednesday.

This time around, it was Eduardo Rodriguez’s time to shine, as the left-hander held the Twins to just one run on five hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts in his second start of the young season.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (51 strikes), the 28-year-old ultimately improved to 2-0 following Wednesday’s impressive showing. His next start should come against the Mariners on Tuesday.

Pair of rookies wrap things up

In relief of Rodriguez, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock came on for his first appearance in six days and needed all of 10 pitches to retire the three hitters he faced in order in the sixth.

From there, another rookie reliever — Eduard Bazardo — got the call for the seventh inning in what was his big-league debut.

The 25-year-old righty out of Venezuela was called up from Boston’s alternate training site to serve as the club’s 27th man for Wednesday’s doubleheader.

He worked his way around two walks and picked up his first major-league strikeout en route to preserving the 7-1 victory for the Sox.

Next up: Last game of road trip

After sweeping Wednesday’s twin bill and extending their winning streak to nine consecutive games, the Red Sox will go for the four-game sweep over the reeling Twins on Thursday afternoon.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be getting the ball for Boston in the series finale, and he will be matched up against fellow righty Michael Pineda.

First pitch Thursday (also Jackie Robinson Day) is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be going for their 10th straight win.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo comes up with game-saving catch as Red Sox top Twins, 3-2, for eighth straight win in Game 1 of doubleheader

In the first game of a straight doubleheader at Target Field Wednesday afternoon, the Twins had Red Sox closer Matt Barnes on the ropes.

With a 3-2 lead to protect, Barnes had recorded the first two outs of the bottom half of the ninth, but only after putting the tying run on base in the form of a leadoff walk to Cave.

Cave stole second base to advance into scoring position, which brought Luis Arraez to the plate with the chance to knot things up at three runs a piece.

After falling behind in the count at 3-1, Barnes delivered an 86 mph curveball that Arraez — a right-handed hitter — slapped the other way.

Alex Verdugo, having moved from center to left field in place of Franchy Cordero an inning prior had just seconds to react to the screamer heading in his direction.

The young outfielder sprawled out to his right and wound up making a catch that was eerily similar to the one Andrew Benintendi made at Minute Maid Park in Game 4 of the 2018 ALCS.

Verdugo’s was still awe-inspiring snag secured a 3-2 victory for the Red Sox that extends their winning streak to eight consecutive games.

Arroyo, Renfroe stay hot at the plate

Facing off against a tough opponent in Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda, a three-run second inning is what gave the Sox the edge in this one.

Hunter Renfroe stayed hot and got his side in the board first by scoring Marwin Gonzalez from second on an RBI single.

After advancing to second on another single off the bat of Cordero, Renfroe came into score when upon fielding a softly-hit bunt from Kevin Plawecki, Maeda attempted to get the force out at third and instead air-mailed his throw well over Arraez’s head.

That blunder doubled Boston’s lead, and Christian Arroyo tacked on another run by plating Cordero on an RBI base-hit to left field. Arroyo also doubled in the top of the fourth.

Eovaldi improves to 2-1 on the season

The Red Sox continue to get consistency from their starting rotation, and Nathan Eovaldi provided that consistency in his third start of the season on Wednesday.

Over five solid frames of work, the veteran right-hander held the Twins to two runs on five hits, no walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Both runs Eovaldi gave up came in a rather laborious bottom half of the third, but the fireballer rebounded by retiring six of the final seven hitters he faced through the end of the fifth — with some defensive help mixed in there as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (60 strikes), the 31-year-old topped out at 99.1 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 34 times. His next start should come against the White Sox back at Fenway Park on Monday.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth. The 24-year-old needed all of seven pitches to retire the side in order before Barnes came on for the seventh.

Next up: Game 2

Next up, the Red Sox will wrap up this twin bill against the Twins later Wednesday evening.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will make his second start of the season for Boston, and he will be opposed by ace right-hander Jose Berrios for Minnesota.

First pitch of Game 2 is scheduled for approximately 5:25 p.m. eastern time. Red Sox will be going for their ninth straight win.

(Picture of Matt Barnes and Alex Verdugo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Red Sox reinstate Eduardo Rodriguez from injured list ahead of left-hander’s season debut against Orioles

Before opening up a three-game series against the Orioles on Thursday, the Red Sox reinstated left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez from the 10-day injured list.

Rodriguez, who turned 28 on Wednesday, will make his 2021 debut in the first of three against Baltimore after starting the season on the injured list due to left elbow inflammation.

The Venezuelan southpaw originally had been slated to start for Boston on Opening Day, but was scratched from that start on account of dealing with “dead arm” during the late stages of spring training.

That bout with “dead arm” resulted in the Sox placing Rodriguez on the IL last week, but as expected, it was a short stint on the shelf for the lefty.

“He’s good to go,” Red Sox manager Cora said on Wednesday. “Looking forward to him to pitch tomorrow. He really wanted to pitch today because it’s his birthday. Good for him, but no. We’re very happy. He’ll be okay tomorrow. He’ll be ready to go.”

When Rodriguez takes the field at Camden Yards on Thursday afternoon, it will have been approximately 557 days since he last toed a big-league rubber. He missed the entirety of the shortened 2020 campaign after being diagnosed with myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) following a bout with COVID-19 last summer.

“It will mean a lot because of everything I went through last year,” Rodriguez told reporters Wednesday. “I just was happy to have the opportunity to be back in baseball and be back to start tomorrow.”

Rodriguez, who owns a lifetime 2.60 ERA in nine career starts at Camden Yards, will not be capped by a pitch or inning limit on Thursday, though the expectation is that Cora and Co. will take a conservative approach with him given the circumstances.

Regardless of that, it goes without saying that Rodriguez’s highly-anticipated season debut has been a long time coming. He will look to lead the Sox to their fourth consecutive victory on Thursday.

The reason the Red Sox were able to activate Rodriguez on Thursday without making a corresponding roster move is because the club optioned right-hander Tanner Houck to the alternate training site in Worcester on Tuesday night.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Red Sox option Tanner Houck to Worcester: Chaim Bloom says rookie right-hander ‘is a capable major-league starting pitcher right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s a finished product’

The Red Sox optioning rookie right-hander Tanner Houck to the alternate training site in Worcester on Wednesday did not come as much of a surprise.

With Eduardo Rodriguez set to make his season debut against the Orioles on Thursday, the Sox needed to open up a roster spot in order to activate the left-hander from the injured list.

Considering the fact that Houck has minor-league options and Boston’s starting rotation already consists of Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, and Martin Perez, optioning the young righty seemed like the most logical step to take so that Rodriguez could be slotted back into the rotation.

Since being called up by the Red Sox for the first time last September, Houck has posted a 1.17 ERA and 2.51 FIP over five outings (four starts) and 23 innings pitched. That includes his first start of the 2021 season against the Orioles over the weekend in which he gave up three runs (two earned) over five innings as well as a relief appearance in the 11th inning of Tuesday’s contest against the Rays in which he allowed one unearned run in one inning of work.

To say the 24-year-old out of Collinsville, Ill. has gotten his big-league career off to an impressive start would be an understatement, but the Sox still feel as though there are some things he can improve upon.

“Tanner pitched great, both in his start and his appearance out of the bullpen,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato on Wednesday. “Simply put, this is about depth. We’re fortunate to have five guys we feel are good and capable major league starters. Tanner, we feel, is a sixth. We want to keep them all starting and keep them all pitching.”

Bloom acknowledged that while Boston’s starting rotation is set for the time being, injuries are inevitable and having Houck available to come up from Worcester could prove to be extremely valuable.

While Houck will be limited to just throwing bullpen sessions and in simulated games at Polar Park for the time being before the minor-league season begins next month, one aspect of his game the Sox would like to see the former first-round pick build on is continuing to develop a third pitch.

That third pitch, a splitter, is one that is still relatively new to the 6-foot-5, 218 pound hurler. Of the 100 pitches the righty has thrown so far this season, only three have been splitters.

“I think Tanner Houck is a capable major league starting pitcher right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s a finished product,” Bloom told Mastrodonato. “We know his ceiling could be even higher if he gets really comfortable with a third pitch. We know he can get lefties out, executing the fastball and slider the way he has in his big league starts, but if he can get more comfortable with that splitter, he’ll be even better. While he’s in Worcester, it’ll be easier to work on that than it would be while he’s pitching in a close game at the big league level.”

To put it simply, Houck is still “a work in progress” in the Red Sox’ eyes.. The hope is that he will be able to make more developmental strides while at the alternate site before being called upon once again.

“Keep working on his craft, on his pitches,” Red Sox manager Alex said in regards to what Houck can do to improve in Worcester. “Keep throwing strikes. Keep developing his secondary pitches. And just be ready. That’s all he needs to do. Where we’re at right now, we knew that this was going to happen. You look at the guys that have pitched for us, they’ve done an amazing job. And the difference between this team and last year — and even 2019 — we’re a lot deeper.

“He was a professional when we talked to him,” Cora continued. “He understands. Whenever we need him, he’ll be here and he’ll perform.”

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Nathan Eovaldi hurls 7 strong innings, Christian Vazquez crushes another homer as Red Sox complete sweep of Rays with 9-2 win in series finale

The Red Sox had nowhere to go but up after getting swept by the Orioles over the weekend, and up they went in the process of completing a three-game sweep of the Rays with a commanding 9-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Eovaldi tosses seven solid frames

Nathan Eovaldi led the way in his second start of the season, tossing seven innings of one-run ball while scattering just three hits and three walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the afternoon.

After giving up that one run on an RBI single in the third, the veteran right-hander retired 11 of the final 15 hitters he faced from the fourth inning on.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (60 strikes), Eovaldi relied on his four-seam fastball 38% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing eight swings-and-misses while topping out at 99 mph with the pitch.

Ultimately picking up his first winning winning decision of the season, the 31-year-old hurler was named the YouTube Player of the Game for his efforts. His next start should come against the Twins in Minnesota next week.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Josh Taylor wrapped things up by allowing one run over the final two innings of Wednesday’s contest to preserve the 9-2 win for his side.

Martinez, Bogaerts, Vazquez lead the way offensively

A Yoshi Tsutsugo RBI single gave the Rays an early 1-0 lead in the third inning, but the Boston bats responded with three runs of their own an inning later.

Xander Bogaerts knotted things up at one by driving in Rafael Devers on a line-drive, run-scoring single to center field off Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, then Christian Vazquez took things into his own hands a few moments later.

Starting at designated hitter after catching all 12 innings on Tuesday, Vazquez crushed his second home run of the season — and second in as many days — off a 2-1, 83 mph cutter from Yarbrough at the top of the strike zone.

Vazquez’s 376-foot blast over the Green Monster gave the Sox a 3-1 advantage.

Aided by a two-run double from a red-hot J.D. Martinez, Bogaerts, Vazquez, Hunter Renfroe, and Christian Vazquez combined to tack on four additional insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth with some help from some sloppy fielding from the Rays.

By the time Arroyo drove in Renfroe on an RBI double to shallow right field, the Red Sox had jumped out to a 9-2 lead, which would be more than enough to secure a 9-2, series-sweeping win on Wednesday.

Next up: First road trip of the season

After salvaging their first homestand of the year to improve to 3-3 through their first six games, the Red Sox will head to Baltimore for the first leg of a two-city, seven-game road trip.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will be making his first start of the season in Thursday’s opener against the Orioles, and he will be matched up against veteran right-hander Matt Harvey.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox option rookie right-hander Tanner Houck to alternate training site

The Red Sox have optioned rookie right-hander Tanner Houck to their alternate training site in Worcester, the team announced prior to Wednesday’s game against the Rays.

The move to option Houck comes as no surprise with Eduardo Rodriguez slated to be activated from the injured list and make his first start of the season against the Orioles on Thursday.

Houck, who turns 25 in June, was initially slated to open the year at the Sox’ alternate training site out of spring training, but Rodriguez being placed on the IL due to elbow inflammation led to the righty breaking camp as the team’s No. 2 starter.

In his first start of the season, which came against Baltimore this past Saturday, Houck yielded three runs — two of which were earned — on six hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts over five innings of work.

He also allowed one unearned run while working the 11th inning of Tuesday’s 6-5, extra-innings win over Tampa Bay.

Since making his major-league debut last September, the former first-round draft pick has posted a 1.17 ERA, a 2.51 FIP, and a 31:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in five outings (four starts) spanning 23 innings pitched for the Sox.

Despite the success Houck has been enjoying at the big-league level thus far, the Red Sox still feel like the 6-foot-5, 218 pound hurler has some work to do in regards to his development. A prime example of this would be to continue working on his third pitch: a splitter.

“It all depends on what you mean check all the boxes,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters Tuesday (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) in regards to why Houck was going to be sent down. “You can be successful here but that doesn’t mean you have checked all your boxes from our end. And you can keep getting better.”

Another reason why the Sox are sending down Houck is because of the starters they already have on their roster.

With Rodriguez set to make his return to the mound on Thursday, Boston’s starting rotation will consist of Nathan Eovaldi, Rodriguez, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, and Martin Perez.

Because Cora and Co. are not currently considering the use of a six-man rotation, Houck becomes the odd man out and will instead serve as rotation depth in Worcester.

Per Cotillo, “the expectation is that Houck will come up and start games later in the year if one of the veteran starters is injured or struggles.”

Until then, he will be limited to simulated games and bullpen sessions at the alternate site at Polar Park before the Worcester Red Sox begin their season in May.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez to make season debut against Orioles on Thursday, Alex Cora says

Eduardo Rodriguez will make his season debut for the Red Sox in their series-opening contest against the Orioles in Baltimore on Thursday, manager Alex Cora announced Tuesday.

Rodriguez, who experienced “dead arm” during the late stages of spring training, began the 2021 campaign on the 10-day injured list due to left elbow inflammation.

The left-hander most recently threw a bullpen session on Monday, and the results of that bullpen session surely played a role in the decision to activate him in the coming days.

“Eduardo feels good,” Cora said via Zoom. “He’s going to join us in Baltimore. He’s going to start the first game in Baltimore. We feel good about him. He threw a good bullpen yesterday, so that’s where we’re at. He’s slated to pitch on Thursday.

Rodriguez, who turns 28 on Wednesday, was initially slated to be Boston’s Opening Day starter, but he was scratched — and later shelved — from that start because of the aforementioned dead arm.

The Sox placed the Venezuelan hurler on the injured list on April 1, but backdated the beginning of the stint to March 29, which now allows Rodriguez to be activated from the IL this coming Thursday.

Having last pitched in a competitive game on March 22, one might expect the Red Sox to ease Rodriguez into things in regards to a pitch or innings limit in his first start of the season later this week, but Cora indicated that will not be the case.

“We’ll take care of him,” the Sox skipper said. “But, there’s not like a hard number that we have. We do believe that he’s ready to go — go deep into the game. So that’s the most important thing. If it was something that it was going to be short, like he wasn’t ready to go five or six [innings], we would probably think about the decision. But we do believe that he can go deep into the game.”

While Rodriguez was sidelined to begin the season, rookie right-hander Tanner Houck started in the lefty’s place against the Orioles on Saturday.

Over five innings of work in that contest, Houck yielded three runs — two of which were earned — on six hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts.

It was yet another solid performance for the 24-year-old, who now owns an ERA of 1.23 through his first four big-league starts. But it would appear that he will be headed back down to the alternate training site in Worcester in spite of that.

“You can be successful here but it doesn’t mean you’ve checked all the boxes from our end, and you can keep getting better” Cora said of Houck. “We haven’t made a decision yet, so we’ll wait.”

Between now and and the time Rodriguez is presumably activated from the injured list before Thursday’s game against Baltimore, Houck will move to the bullpen and will be available to pitch in relief in Tuesday night’s contest against the Rays at Fenway Park.

As MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith put it, though, “don’t expect the Red Sox to use Houck as a reliever for any extended period of time. The Red Sox want him to remain a starter and keep working on the development of his splitter.”

Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush said as much when discussing Houck’s development as a starter back in February.

“The split was new for him last year so he was relatively inexperienced with it,” Bush told reporters at the time. “He didn’t use it a whole lot in the big leagues. He’s going to have to. If he’s going to be a consistent big-league starter over time, he’s going to need a quality third pitch. He knows that and that’s probably been on the top of the list.

“Continuing to work on that to the point where he feels comfortable and confident attacking the zone with it and throwing it whenever he needs to,” continued Bush. “Also, generally, pitch command. Something he has worked on all through the minors is just throwing more strikes, being more consistent in the zone and being able to work ahead in the count so he can use his slider and his other off-speed pitches to get guys out.”

In Saturday’s start against the Orioles, 54 of the 85 pitches Houck threw went for strikes. Of those 85 pitches, 32 were sliders, 32 were four-seam fastballs, 18 were sinkers, and three were splitters.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Red Sox recall Tanner Houck from alternate training site; right-hander will start against Orioles on Saturday; ‘He’s in a good position now to come here and contribute,’ Alex Cora says

Throughout the 2019 and 2020 seasons, the Red Sox did not have the starting rotation depth they have now as they prepare to embark upon the 2021 campaign.

That much was made clear when upon placing left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez on the 10-day injured list due to left elbow inflammation on Thursday, the club recalled right-hander Tanner Houck from its alternate training site.

Houck, currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system, had an up-and-down spring for the Sox, posting a 5.04 ERA over four outings — two of which were starts — and 10 2/3 innings pitched in Grapefruit League play.

The 24-year-old hurler had come into big-league camp vying for a spot in the Red Sox’ Opening Day starting rotation after impressing in a brief cameo (0.53 ERA in three starts) with the club last September.

“I still remember him pitching last year and reading about how he’s supposed to be on the Opening Day roster next year, and he was going to help us — or that point them — out to be better,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Houck on Thursday. “Well, you know what? He was going to start the year in Triple-A. And right away, we need a guy, and it’s Tanner Houck. So, I think that’s a lot better than what happened in ’19 and obviously what happened in ’20.”

Houck’s best outing of the spring was actually his very last one, and his first after being optioned to the alternate site nearly two weeks prior.

Working against the Braves in North Port on March 29, the 6-foot-5, 230 pound righty tossed 4 1/3 scoreless frames while scattering just two hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the afternoon.

“Just watching him pitch the last one, him knowing the situation, you could tell he breathed,” Cora said. “It felt like, early in camp he was trying to impress someone. I told him before it started, ‘You just go out there and pitch.’ But the velocity was way up, he was out of his delivery. We haven’t talked about it, but he felt like he was off.

“The last one, he was under control, just throwing his sinker, and his four-seamer up, and the slider,” added Cora. “That was a good lineup, too. And there were some bad swings. But I think the comfort level — and it’s not that he was uncomfortable early on — but he was trying to do more, and that’s part of the learning process.”

Houck may have not been in Boston’s original starting rotation plans as of two weeks ago, but circumstances change and the former first-round draft pick is now scheduled to make his first start of the season against the Orioles at Fenway Park on Saturday.

Upon getting called up for the first time last year, Houck was unable to have any of his family in the stands to watch him pitch on account of COVID-19 protocols. That will change this weekend, as a few of the former Missouri Tiger’s relatives will be on hand to watch him pitch in-person for the first time in quite a while.

“He’s going to be excited on Saturday because he’s going to pitch in front of his family for the first time as a big-leaguer,” said Cora. “But I think he’s in a good position now to come here and contribute.”

Houck will be matched up against Orioles right-hander Matt Harvey on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Eduardo Rodriguez on injured list; Alex Cora hopeful left-hander will be able to rejoin team ‘sooner rather than later. And sooner is like next week’

To nobody’s surprise, the Red Sox placed left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez on the 10-day injured list on Thursday due to left elbow inflammation.

The soon-to-be 28-year-old hurler was originally slated to start on Opening Day for the Sox in their first game of the year against the Orioles, but was scratched from said start after suffering a “dead arm” in the last week of spring training.

Now that he has been placed on the injured list — which was actually backdated to March 29 — the hope is that Rodriguez will be be able to return to the mound in the very near future.

“Him going on the IL is nothing long-term,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about Rodriguez earlier Thursday. “It’s just [that] we ran out of time to build him up. The hope is for him to rejoin us sooner rather than later. And sooner is like next week.”

Rodriguez will head to Worcester on Friday to throw a simulated game at the Sox’ alternate training site at Polar Park.

Though Cora was unsure of how many innings or pitches Rodriguez would throw in that simulated game, he did place an emphasis on the Venezuelan southpaw’s health in the midst of this latest setback.

“We’ll build him up and see how it goes,” said the Sox skipper. “Like the whole week, the next day is the most important day. Hopefully he’s OK. The goal is for him is to be with us hopefully next week.”

Because his stint on the injured list was backdated to this past Monday, Rodriguez could be activated from the IL as soon as April 8, which — as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — would line him up to get the starting nod against the Orioles in the Red Sox’ road opener in Baltimore.

Rodriguez, who missed all of 2020 due to a heart condition as a result of contracting COVID-19 over the summer, has not pitched on a big-league mound since September 2019. While he is surely anxious to get back out there as soon as possible, he also understands that he needs to be at his best health-wise before returning to action.

“I’m going to go out there when I’m 100%,” Rodriguez said last weekend. “That’s why we sat together and made the decision. I want to go out there and compete and not think, ‘Oh, my shoulder’ and all that and miss my spots.”

The start of the 2021 season, which for the Red Sox was pushed back from Thursday to Friday, will mark the second consecutive year in which Rodriguez was supposed to be Boston’s Opening Day starter but ultimately was not.

A bout with COVID-19 prevented that from happening last summer, and a bout with left elbow inflammation is preventing that from happening this spring.

“It sucks for him because going into ‘20 he was supposed to be the Opening Day starter,” Cora said of the 6-foot-2, 231 pounder back on March 26. “Going into ‘21, we announced it and now he’s not. But 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.’ So he took it as a professional. With him, I think the communication is very clear. It’s very genuine. And for him to accept it and think about the future and not the first game of the season, it is a testament to who he is right now as a pitcher, as a person, as a leader in this team.”

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox unveil Opening Day roster, place Eduardo Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier on injured list and recall Tanner Houck from alternate training site

The Red Sox unveiled their 26-man Opening Day roster on Thursday and in doing so placed two pitchers on the injured list.

Both left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (left elbow inflammation) and right-hander Ryan Brasier (left calf strain) were placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to March 29.

Lefty Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) will also begin the year on the injured list alongside Rodriguez and Brasier.

In place of Rodriguez, righty Tanner Houck was recalled from the Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester. The 24-year-old hurler will make his first start of the season on Saturday.

The Red Sox will go into the 2021 season with 14 pitchers and 12 position players on their major-league roster to start things out in the first of three against the Orioles on Friday afternoon.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)