Despite setbacks, Red Sox still optimistic about Eduardo Rodriguez
For the second year in a row, Boston Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez saw his Opening Day start slip through his fingers. Last season, an arduous battle with COVID and the myocarditis that developed from it would take away his entire 2020. Now that he’s finally healthy and was doing some serious work in spring he was set to avenge last year just to run into a case of dead arm just a week before Opening Day.
The southpaw had a bullpen session yesterday and said that he felt great coming out of it which is fantastic news. During his press conference earlier this morning, Alex Cora mentioned that Eddie was playing catch with Christian Vazquez and that he’d be back on the mound tomorrow as well. If all goes well we hopefully will get to see the southpaw back on the bump in a meaningful game real soon.
Red Sox CBO Chaim Bloom also spoke to the media today and made it clear that while he and Cora are optimistic about E-Rod’s status, they won’t be forcing him back. The name of the game in regards to seeing him in the starting rotation is patience and process.
They must exhibit patience in his rehab to ensure that his arm doesn’t give out again right away and possibly cause actual damage. We’ve seen Boston be very hesitant in pushing guys too much too soon this spring and this is merely another case of being cautious.
“It’s more of a day-by-day thing,” Bloom said Sunday. “He had a great day yesterday, which is good. That’s awesome. We continue to feel really good about this just being a short-term hiccup, making sure we take care of him. But in terms of specifics on when we’ll get him back out there, we don’t have those yet.”
We still don’t know when we’ll be seeing Chris Sale in 2021 let alone if we actually will. If Boston runs into another season as they had in 2020 I doubt The Condor will be back. Beyond that, the Red Sox once again will lean on Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez as well as new additions Nick Pivetta and Garrett Richards. All four have the possibility of having great campaigns and have been pretty strong this spring, but the team needs a healthy Eduardo in order to succeed this year.
In his last full season, we saw the lefty ascend to the mantle of Ace as he was the team’s best pitcher from start to finish. His 2019 totals were career-highs and he even led the Majors in starts with 34. He finished the year with a 19-6 record through 203.1 IP and a 3.81 ERA. E-Rod would also total 213 strikeouts while walking an AL-leading 75 batters. Those efforts would see him finish sixth in the Cy Young voting despite being one of the best pitchers in the game that year.
With what we’ve seen from him so far this spring it felt like we may see Rodriguez approach those marks once again which would be one hell of a story. He was one of the first athletes I can remember not only saying he had COVID but losing an entire season to the virus and its side effects. When he shared his story and the fight he went through, well, I don’t wish that on anyone. But he was able to get a clean bill of health and looked as if he hadn’t missed a beat until his most recent start.
“Eduardo feels good,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He feels good about his bullpen. He’s going to get back on the mound tomorrow and we’ll see where we’re at with him. But he’s feeling better.”
Eddie got battered a bit in his most recent start and he and Cora decided to pull the plug early and finish his day in the bullpen. It was initially said by both that everything was fine and it was more of a maintenance day but a few days later that all changed. The Red Sox would say it was in fact a case of dead arm and just like that, Opening Day was off the table.
It sucks for a guy who’s fought so hard to get back to where he’s at just to lose out on his big opportunity for the second year in a row. Now with him on the shelf for the time being the team has to shuffle things around in the rotation until he can return. While talking about E-Rod this morning, Cora mentioned that Tanner Houck would be getting another start this spring in order to prepare him in case they need him in the starting rotation to open the year. Houck was a breakout star for the Red Sox in the final month of the season and will factor big into their future plans.
With just a few days remaining in spring training, the Red Sox can’t afford any more setbacks. It’s a good sign that Rodriguez is feeling better and both Cora and Bloom are willing to be patient with him. He has to be in the best shape he can be and have his health at full speed if this team wants to fight for October. We’ve seen what he can do when healthy, now it’s just a matter of getting him back to there to do it when it counts.