BOSTON -- A timeline is crystallizing for Eduardo Rodriguez's return to the Red Sox's rotation. Fresh off a strong start to his Minor League rehab assignment for Double-A Portland on Monday (four shutout innings, eight strikeouts), the lefty will make one more start in the Minors this weekend and then
BOSTON -- A timeline is crystallizing for Eduardo Rodriguez's return to the Red Sox's rotation. Fresh off a strong start to his Minor League rehab assignment for Double-A Portland on Monday (four shutout innings, eight strikeouts), the lefty will make one more start in the Minors this weekend and then should return to the big leagues.
That would put Rodriguez in line to return at some point during a four-game weekend series in Chicago from Aug. 30-Sept. 2. If the Red Sox wait until September to activate Rodriguez, they will have an expanded roster and won't need to send anyone down.
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Rodriguez sustained a severe right ankle sprain on July 14. His return could be crucial for the Red Sox down the stretch and into the postseason.
"I read the report. [Portland pitching coach Paul Abbott] felt that his cutter was outstanding," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He was able to use it backdoor against right-handed hitters. We saw that in the live BP in Philly."
The cutter could become a bigger weapon for Rodriguez when he returns.
"There's been a lot of talk about his cutter, where he can use it. Obviously, David [Price] is leading the charge," said Cora. "You've seen David lately using that cutter. It's been a lot better lately and he feels that can be a weapon, so he was good. Efficient. He went four innings and he only had one chance to cover first. It was a ground ball to first base, [and] he took off right away. So his instincts are there. So probably one more and then we go."
Knuckleballer Steven Wright, who has been out since June 23 (left knee inflammation) is also getting closer to a return. Wright will throw batting practice for the Sox on Friday at Tropicana Field. The Sox will bring some Minor League players over from Fort Myers, Fla., to face Wright, because the players on the Major League roster aren't exactly eager to take batting practice against a knuckleball.
With the Minor League season winding down on Sept. 3, Wright could well start a rehab assignment a few days after his batting practice session at Tropicana Field.
Pedroia not giving up on return this season
With the calendar swiftly moving towards September, it seems unlikely that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be able to return this season. But in typical Pedroia fashion, he is holding out hope and doing whatever he can do to give himself a chance.
Pedroia, who has been training in Arizona for roughly the past month, called in to the NESN/WEEI Jimmy Fund radio telethon on Tuesday.
"I'm preparing right now to hopefully, if it's possible, if the team needs me this year, to be ready," Pedroia said on the Ordway, Merloni and Fauria show. "I don't know if they know it's possible, and I don't know if it's possible. All I'm doing right now is working."
Pedroia, who was able to play just three games this season before enduring a setback to his surgically-repaired left knee, started running last week.
In hindsight, Pedroia realizes he came back too quickly initially. Pedroia is confident he will get over this injury and be a successful player again.
"I'm feeling a lot better, seeing a lot of changes. I'm going to get over this injury," Pedroia said. "It's just a matter of when. Hopefully, if it's not this year, I have three years remaining to play after that."
Though Pedroia would obviously love to be playing for the juggernaut the 2018 Red Sox have become, their success has actually made it easier for him during his absence.
"Honestly, this is probably the best thing ever for me," Pedroia said. "We're playing great baseball. It's so fun to watch. It's exciting to see all the guys doing well. If it wasn't going like that -- if I had any hair on my head, I'd have pulled it out. Watching every game and shooting guys text messages after they do good, that's keeping me going."
Cora thinking about Remy
While popular NESN broadcaster Jerry Remy continues to be away from the team as he battles his latest bout with cancer, he remains in the hearts of the Red Sox players and staff. Cora arrived at his pregame news conference on Tuesday with a shirt that supported Remy.
"We miss him," Cora said. "You know what? I miss him downstairs. When I walked in at 1:15 [p.m.], he was always there, looking at the stats. I even would grab my stats and give it to him, like, 'We don't need that.' He was always good walking through the office, and he'll be back. We know that. We miss him. Like I've been saying, we're thinking about him, praying for him and everything's going to be fine."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.