Red Sox pitchers nearing return despite moving to injured list
The Boston Red Sox placed three pitchers to the injured list.
Three members of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff won’t be ready for Opening Day after they were placed on the injured list on Wednesday but they shouldn’t be sidelined for long.
Eduardo Rodriguez, Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez weren’t given an injury designation but we know the reason for their absence. Rodriguez and Hernandez have yet to arrive in camp after testing positive for COVID-19 and neither has been cleared to travel to Boston. Taylor has been isolated at a hotel room in Boston since testing positive during an intake screening upon his arrival to summer camp.
Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke provided a vague update that optimistically hinted that these pitchers are nearing a return, per MassLive’s Chris Cotillo.
"“All three of them actually, the testing has been better on all three of them,” Roenicke said. “We know they’re getting over it and once we start getting those better tests, we’re getting close.”"
I’m not a doctor but my understanding is that the COVID-19 tests come back as either positive or negative. There’s no negative-ish result that indicates the virus is barely active. That leaves plenty of interpretation for Roenicke’s comments about the testing getting “better.”
MLB requires players who test positive for COVID-19 to produce two negative tests at least 24 hours apart and be symptom-free before they are allowed to rejoin their team. They also must be cleared by a team physician and the MLB/MLBPA Joint Committee.
Roenicke’s message could mean a number of things. He might have meant that the pitchers are symptom-free but still need to produce negatives tests. Or maybe they have tested negative once but need to do so again before they can be cleared. It’s also possible that they have cleared these hurdles but still need approval from a physician and the Join Committee. That final step might take longer since E-Rod is in Miami and Hernandez is in Venezuela, which means they need to be cleared to travel first.
The three pitchers aren’t necessarily at the same stage of the process so some may be closer than others. Either way, it appears they have all made some progress and shouldn’t miss significant time.
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Opening Day is only nine days away so we are now beyond the point where Rodriguez could feasibly be ready to take the mound for the first game against the Baltimore Orioles. He will need at last a tune-up or two in a simulated game before he’s ready to pitch in a regular season game. The move to the IL essentially rules him out for Opening Day but it doesn’t appear that he’ll be out long beyond that.
Rodriguez could conceivably be back in time for his start in the second turn through the rotation, which should fall during the home-and-home series against the Mets. That could also align his next start during the series against the Yankees. Boston needs E-Rod a lot more when they travel to the Bronx than they do at home against the Orioles.
Nathan Eovaldi is expected to get the nod on Opening Day. This hasn’t been made official and Roenicke indicated he hasn’t discussed it with Nate yet, but let’s face it, there are no other viable options.
Relievers don’t take as much time to get ready when returning from the IL so Taylor and Hernandez should be able to jump back into the bullpen shortly after they are cleared.
The Red Sox pitching staff will be dangerously thin to begin the season but at least reinforcements appear to be on the way.