Corey Kluber named Red Sox’ Opening Day starter

The Red Sox have named Corey Kluber as their Opening Day starter, manager Alex Cora announced on Wednesday. The two-time Cy Young Award winner will get the ball against the Orioles at Fenway Park on March 30.

Kluber, who turns 37 next month, signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Red Sox in January that comes with a club option for 2024. Shortly after putting pen to paper, Cora informed the veteran right-hander that he would be starting on Opening Day.

“I talked to him right after orientation meetings — Winter Weekend,” Cora told reporters (including’s CJ Haddad). “I gave him a call the next week and said, ‘Hey, you’re going to be my Opening Day starter. So whatever you have to do family-wise, structure-wise, be ready, you’re pitching that day.’ He appreciated that.”

Kluber is coming off a 2022 campaign with the Rays in which he posted a 4.34 ERA and 3.57 FIP with 139 strikeouts to 21 walks over 31 starts spanning 164 innings of work. Prior to that, the three-time All-Star made five consecutive Opening Day starts while with Cleveland from 2015-2019.

Over the weekend, Cora revealed that Chris Sale would not be getting the nod on Opening Day after the left-hander has been mired by injuries in each of the last three seasons. Instead, Sale will get the chance to enjoy the festivities on March 30 (his 34th birthday) as a spectator before making his first start in Boston’s second game against Baltimore on April 1.

“I want him to enjoy Thursday (March 30, Opening Day) as a regular baseball player,” Cora said Sunday. “Just the whole Opening Day thing. Whenever he pitches in the rotation, he’ll pitch in the rotation. But I decided that like a month and a half ago.”

Kluber made his fourth start of the spring against the Rays at JetBlue Park on Wednesday. He will likely make two additional Grapefruit League starts before the Red Sox head north and the 2023 regular season begins.

Beyond Kluber and Sale, how the rest of the Red Sox’ starting rotation will shake out to begin the year is still somewhat of a mystery. With James Paxton (hamstring strain), Brayan Bello (forearm tightness), and Garrett Whitlock (slow buildup after September hip surgery) all candidates to start the season on the injured list, Boston could break camp with Kluber, Sale, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, and Kutter Crawford as its five starters.

“It’s one start,” said Cora. “Obviously, it’s a special one because it’s Opening Day, but after that, I think at one point nobody remembers who was the Opening Day starter. Everybody has to do their part regardless. The five guys are going to start, and then guys are going to join them later on.”

Kluber has often said that Fenway Park is one of his favorite ballparks to pitch in. The Alabama native makes his offseason home in Winchester, Mass. (where his wife, Amanda is from) and will now have the chance to make some lifelong memories later this month.

“I’m excited about [Kluber],” Cora said. ” I know it’s special for his family, and it should be a fun one.”

(Picture of Corey Kluber: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez lasts just 2 innings in start against Rays, tosses 2 more simulated innings in bullpen

In his first outing since being named the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter last week, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched just two innings in his fourth start of the spring against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday afternoon.

The 27-year-old allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout over those two innings of work in Port Charlotte.

By the time Rodriguez had recorded the final out of the second, his pitch count had already reached 46, so rather than go back out there for a third inning, the decision was made for the left-hander to get the rest of his work in via a bullpen session in which he threw two simulated innings.

“I was a little bit out of command and threw too many pitches in those two innings,” Rodriguez explained during his in-game Zoom call with reporters. “So we talked in the dugout if I want to go back there or go to the bullpen and finish the work over there. I just go to the bullpen and finish the work over there.”

While citing that the Rays are a team he could see a lot of this season as a reason for why he did not pitch particularly deep into Monday’s contest, Rodriguez dismissed the notion that he is dealing with dead arm at this point in the spring.

In fact, he actually acknowledged that the type of performance he put together on Monday is one he likes to have from time to time during the spring so he can gauge where he is at.

“Today was one of those days I really like to have, especially in spring training,” said the Venezuelan southpaw. “Because then you know where the pitches are, what you have to keep working on. It was kind of a good day to learn from.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora acknowledged that while Rodriguez is healthy, the starter did not have a great week of preparation leading up to Monday’s outing.

“It’s one of those that during spring, you can see how they feel stuff-wise,” Cora said. “Throughout the week, it’s not like he’s hurt or whatever, but he didn’t look great. You hit the wall throughout. That’s part of spring. So let him face the lineup once and finish up in the bullpen. He didn’t look great either location-wise. So we just took care of him.”

Through his first four starts in Grapefruit League action, Rodriguez has yielded five runs (four earned) on 11 hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and 15 strikeouts over 13 2/3 total innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 2.63 and WHIP of 0.95.

If all goes according to plan, Rodriguez will make one more spring start against the Pirates on Saturday before the regular season begins.

Rodriguez, a veteran of five major-league seasons, has long awaited to start for the Red Sox on Opening Day.

When he takes the mound at Fenway Park to face off against the Orioles on April 1, it will mark his first regular season big-league start since the final day of the 2019 season. He missed the entirety of the shortened 2020 campaign after contracting myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) following a bout with COVID-19 while at home in Florida last July.

“It feels amazing,” Rodriguez said in regards to being Boston’s Opening Day starter. “To have the chance after all those legends who have been the Opening Day starter. So for me, it feels really good to be part of it.”

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