BOSTON -- Red Sox ace lefty Eduardo Rodriguez confirmed Sunday morning that a heart condition called Myocarditis is the reason he was shut down from all baseball activities the day before Opening Day.
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart typically caused by a viral infection.
Though there is no way to know for sure, Rodriguez said doctors told him he likely contracted the condition due to having COVID-19 a few weeks ago.
“I mean, I would say so. Because they told me that something like 10 or 20 percent of the people [who get COVID-19], get that, so that’s what they tell me,” said Rodriguez.
This wasn’t a symptom-based thing, but rather something that was detected in a routine MRI Rodriguez had last week. Rodriguez was told to halt all baseball activities for a week, meaning he could be cleared to resume throwing as early as Thursday.
“The doctor told me just take a week, just rest, don't get [too high a] heart rate,” Rodriguez said. “Just rest for a week and we wait to see the next MRI, what it says. If it goes out, if it goes away, just go back to work.”
Rodriguez is sure hoping that is the case, because what he is doing now is boring.
“Just sitting, that’s all I’ve got to do, is just sit and eat and walk and all that,” said Rodriguez. “Just taking it easy, and chilling for a week.”
One thing Rodriguez can do is watch his teammates play baseball on television, which only increases his itch to come back and help them. He had no thoughts of electing not to play this season, even in light of the recent diagnosis.
“No, no, no, no. I want to be pitching yesterday, the day before, or today,” Rodriguez said. “I want to be out there every time I can, so I'm never thinking of getting out of the season. I feel bad every time I see a game happening and I'm not even in the dugout.”
That said, Rodriguez realizes his health comes first.
“That's the most important part of your body,” said Rodriguez. “The first time I heard heart, I was kind of scared a little. Now that I know what it is, I'm still scared, but now I know exactly what it is. I just talk to my mom, talk to my wife, let them know what I have, and now I've got to take the rest.”
Once Rodriguez gets the all clear, how soon thereafter could he pitch for the Red Sox?
“As soon as I throw the first ball, I'll let you know,” Rodriguez said. “I need to know how my shoulder feels. As soon as I throw the first ball in the first bullpen, I'll let you know. ... It depends how I feel the first time I throw the ball.”
Pitching plans vs. Mets
The revolving door known as the Red Sox’s pitching staff is at last starting to come into focus for the fourth and fifth games of the season against the Mets at Fenway on Monday and Tuesday.
Lefty Josh Osich will be the opener. Given that all 218 of his previous MLB appearances have been as a reliever, he is only expected to go one or two innings.
Zack Godley, who didn’t make the Opening Day roster but was called back up on Sunday, will be the bulk-innings guy, most likely after Osich is done.
The Red Sox signed the righty on July 17, just days after he was released by the Tigers.
“We’re going to pitch him somewhere, whether we’re starting him or relieving him,” said manager Ron Roenicke.
In a starting scenario, Godley will serve as an opener.
“Awesome. That would be great,” said Godley. “I’m just looking for an opportunity to pitch.”
Lefty Matt Hall, who has made 85 career starts in the Minors, but none in the Majors, will start Tuesday night. The Red Sox likely won’t have a set fifth starter, particularly early in the season.
“It’s probably more a piggyback kind of situation,” said Roenicke. “I’m not thinking one inning with him, so he’s stretched out. He could go four or five. So I think if he’s pitching well, then he’ll be in there for a few innings hopefully, and then we’ll piece together the end of it. But, yes, I don’t have him as just a one-inning guy.”
When the teams move to Citi Field on Wednesday and Thursday, the Red Sox will go to traditional starters Nathan Eovaldi and Martín Pérez.
Benny’s turn to rest
Roenicke said he would take turns resting his position players over the first 10 days of the season, and it was Andrew Benintendi’s turn on Sunday afternoon.
After swinging a hot bat in Summer Camp, Benintendi went 0-for-9 in the first two games. With a lefty Wade LeBlanc starting for the Orioles, Roenicke went with second baseman José Peraza in the leadoff spot. Alex Verdugo took over Benintendi’s spot in left field, while Kevin Pillar made the start in right.
Taylor, Darwinzon still ‘a ways away'
Lefties Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez, who are both on the injured list, have been doing their throwing at the team’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.
They are both recovering from COVID-19. Hernandez and Taylor were expected to be Boston’s top two lefties in the bullpen.
“We’re still a ways away with him and Darwinzon,” Roenicke said. “So, I really haven’t locked in on it too much. When we start getting close to a point where we’re a week away or a few days away, I’ll obviously pay a lot more attention to it. I just know where they were here. I know after an inning or 20 pitches, they were very exhausted, so we’re still a ways off there.”
The Red Sox will face Mets righty Michael Wacha for the first time since they beat him in the clinching Game 6 of the 2013 World Series at Fenway Park. Wacha was with the Cardinals then. For the Red Sox, Benintendi, 0-for-9 in his first two starts, will be back in the lineup after getting a rest on Sunday. First pitch at Fenway Park on Monday night will be 7:30 p.m. ET. Watch all the action live on MLB.TV.