Red Sox Rumors: Eduardo Rodriguez could return after next rehab start

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 11: Eduardo Rodriguez
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 11: Eduardo Rodriguez /

Eduardo Rodriguez is expected to pitch in a minor league game next week, after which he may be ready to join the Boston Red Sox rotation.

The Boston Red Sox began the season with a shorthanded rotation but help may be on the way soon.

ESPN’s Marly Rivera reports that Eduardo Rodriguez will appear in a minor league game down in Fort Myers next week. The lefty is hopeful that if all goes well in that rehab outing he’ll be ready to be activated from the disabled list.

If Rodriguez’ rehab appearance is on Tuesday it would line him up to potentially return to Boston to face the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, April 8. The Red Sox have yet to announce a starter for that game. A pair of off days that week allow for some flexibility. Boston could turn to either Hector Velazquez or Brian Johnson. It’s unlikely a fifth starter will be used the second turn through the rotation, so at least one of them will be skipped. If E-Rod can return by then it would allow the Red Sox to skip both spot starters.

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Pushing Rodriguez’ minor league outing to Wednesday wouldn’t be quite as seamless. He would not be rested enough to pitch that Sunday game. The next day is another off day, the team’s third in the span of a week. That means Rodriguez’ first chance to join the rotation would come on April 10 against the New York Yankees. Throwing Rodriguez into the fire of the team’s fiercest rivalry in his return from knee surgery seems unwise.

The Red Sox will almost certainly prefer to send Chris Sale to the mound for that nationally televised game against the Yankees. By that point, Sale will have had a full week since his second time through the rotation. There’s little reason to keep their ace sitting around any longer.

David Price and Rick Porcello would presumably stay on schedule to complete the three-game series against New York. If Rodriguez doesn’t pitch in a minor league game until Wednesday, the earliest we will see him back in the big leagues would be the April 13 game against the Baltimore Orioles. This would give Rodriguez plenty of time for another rehab appearance before his season debut. He would then slot into the No. 4 spot in the rotation behind Porcello.

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Barring a setback, it would appear Rodriguez is the closest among Boston’s injured starters to returning. Getting Rodriguez back gives the Red Sox the luxury of choosing between Velazquez and Johnson as their No. 5 starter rather than being forced to use both.