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E-Rod OK; progress for Sale, Bogaerts

@IanMBrowne
February 22, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Google “Eduardo Rodriguez” and “knee”: The results aren’t pretty. So after Rodriguez fell down in the bullpen earlier this week and tweaked his left knee, it was natural for there to be some trepidation -- from the pitcher himself, the Red Sox and fans who want

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Google “Eduardo Rodriguez” and “knee”: The results aren’t pretty.

So after Rodriguez fell down in the bullpen earlier this week and tweaked his left knee, it was natural for there to be some trepidation -- from the pitcher himself, the Red Sox and fans who want to see him build off his breakout season of a year ago.

Fear not, however. Two pieces of good news have emerged. The first is that Rodriguez twisted his left knee -- not the right, which he has endured numerous injuries with over the years. The second is that this doesn’t seem like any big deal at all.

It has just caused a minor switch in his pitching schedule. Rodriguez was supposed to make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday in Sarasota, Fla., against the Orioles.

Instead, he will get some simulated work on the back field on Monday that will account for the two innings he would have made in his first start. Provided there are no hiccups, Rodriguez will bump up to three innings in a Grapefruit League start next weekend.

“I was throwing before the live BP and I fell down, nothing cut, nothing like that. Just my spike got stuck a little bit,” Rodriguez said. “We just pushed back one day for that. I went outside today and threw a normal bullpen for the spring, so everything feels great. I’m not really too concerned about it.”

In a post-Mookie Betts and David Price world, there is nothing more important to the Red Sox than their top three starters (Chris Sale, Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi) staying healthy.

Rodriguez was relieved right away after his fall.

“I know how it is when something is really, really bad,” Rodriguez said. “It happened to my right knee like 10 times. Now I know how it is. It wasn’t even close like with the right one. It just felt like a twist, rolled it a little bit. Nothing really crazy.”

In Rodriguez’s earlier days, he also had trouble with the psychological ramifications of pitching through injuries -- with the back of his mind seemingly always haunting him into being tentative if he was anything less than 100 percent.

But in another sign of his development, he is past that.

“The more I play, the more I learn,” Rodriguez said. “I would say I don’t feel like the guys who have eight or nine years, but I’ve been through a lot of injuries and I know how my body is now. I know how to deal with it, and that’s how I feel right now.”

In Rodriguez’s place, the Red Sox will start righty Chris Mazza against the Orioles. Mazza is one of the many candidates vying for a fifth starter/opener position.

Sale update
Lefty ace Sale continues to make progress after his arrival in camp was delayed due to the flu and pneumonia.

On Sunday, he will throw his third side session within the past week.

“Hopefully that goes well,” interim manager Ron Roenicke said. “After that side, probably the next day we’re going to sit down with him, with [chief baseball officer] Chaim [Bloom], with our trainer, and map out a little better for him and get him mentally prepared with what we’re thinking. [Pitching coach Dave Bush] was talking about possibly the next time being a live BP, but Bushy would prefer it to be an up-and-down bullpen and then we’ll do a live BP.”

Roenicke is determined not to skip any steps with Sale, even if it means missing Opening Day.

“I think he’s making great progress,” Roenicke said. “As you guys know, he is huge with what we do this year with our starting staff. He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, and we can’t mess with him. We can’t not get him to a spot that we have a chance to get him because we’re trying to rush him into something.”

However, Sale is champing at the bit to be there for the Red Sox from the start after missing the final six weeks of last season with an elbow injury. That said, he said he will go along with whatever the medical staff wants.

“I think I’m going to be ready for it,” Sale said. “But like I said, those aren’t my calls to make. I go out there, do my job, tell them how I feel on a daily basis. Obviously as the workload picks up, we have to see how things work out. I’ve just got to be open and honest with them, and then we map out a plan and see how it works out.”

Bogaerts making progress
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was not ready to be in the lineup for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener due to the left ankle injury he has been nursing since he arrived in camp.

But the veteran is easing into baseball activities and should have plenty of time to be ready for Opening Day.

“Progressing nice. He’s been hitting some in the cage,” Roenicke said. “He’s throwing. They’ll hit him some light ground balls today. I think he’s coming along well. He’s building up and making sure when we’re hitting, when he gets live, because it’s his front foot when he pivots, we’re making sure he doesn’t get sore again.”

Up next
The Red Sox will send their top prospect to Sarasota on Sunday to face the Orioles in middle infielder Jeter Downs. MLB Pipeline’s No. 44-rated prospect was acquired by Boston in the blockbuster trade that sent Betts and Price to the Dodgers. Non-roster invitee Rusney Castillo, who is in the last season of his contract, will also be on the trip. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. It is the first road game of the spring for the Sox.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.