BOSTON -- Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez had been expected to get the reward of pitching on Opening Day after winning 19 games last season. But it is now questionable at best that the ace will be ready for the start of the 2020 season, as manager Ron Roenicke revealed Tuesday that Rodriguez has tested positive for COVID-19.
Rodriguez didn’t join the rest of the players for intake tests in Boston last week because he had been exposed to someone who was sick and remained at his home in Florida to get tested.
The results finally became available on Tuesday, the fifth day of Boston’s Summer Camp workouts. With the regular season set to start on July 24 at home against the Orioles, Rodriguez would need to make a lot of progress in the next few days to be in play for that start.
“He’s feeling a lot better, but he’s still not feeling 100 percent,” Roenicke said, “so we’ll continue to test him and hopefully get some negatives back, and then he’ll be able to join us.”
It should be noted that Rodriguez has yet to rule himself out for the opener.
“He wants to be ready for that Opening Day, but we’ll have to see how it goes,” Roenicke said. “The medical team will follow him, will give him instructions basically on how to stay in shape. It just depends on how long this thing goes, when we can get the negative test from him and when he can come up and join us. Like I said, Eddie’s still on me about being ready for Opening Day, so we’ll see what happens there.”
Though the Red Sox made Dalbec part of their 60-man player pool, he was not expected to make the team out of camp. The right-handed hitter is more of a depth option at this point in the event one of the other corner infielders suffers an injury or becomes ill.
“He’s asymptomatic,” Roenicke said. “He has been. He got this while he was at home and we’re waiting to get some negative tests back from him before he can join the team. “
The depth of Boston’s starting rotation was already the weak spot of the team, with Chris Sale out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, David Price having been dealt to the Dodgers and Rick Porcello having signed with the Mets.
Nathan Eovaldi, who looked sharp and healthy in Spring Training and in these early days of Summer Camp, will take the ball on Opening Day if Rodriguez isn’t ready.
Left-hander Martín Pérez, who was originally signed to be the fifth starter in December, suddenly takes on a much more important role. If Rodriguez starts the season late, Pérez could open as the No. 2 starter. Ryan Weber, a journeyman who has impressed the club with his command, is expected to hold down a rotation spot.
The Red Sox could go with an opener in the No. 5 slot. If another spot is open temporarily while Rodriguez recovers, Roenicke would prefer to use a starter rather than deploy two openers in the rotation.
Lefty Brian Johnson, who was dependable as a fill-in for the Red Sox two years ago but shaky last year, is an option. Veteran righty Collin McHugh is coming off a flexor tendon injury in his right elbow from last season, but he is an intriguing candidate if deemed healthy enough to start the season.