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Eovaldi gets Opening Day nod for Red Sox

E-Rod returns to Fenway, will open season on injured list
@feinsand
July 18, 2020

Eduardo Rodriguez was back at Fenway Park with his Red Sox teammates on Saturday, but the left-hander won’t be on the mound for the opener Friday in Boston. That honor will instead go to Nathan Eovaldi, as manager Ron Roenicke officially tabbed the righty as his Opening Day starter against

Eduardo Rodriguez was back at Fenway Park with his Red Sox teammates on Saturday, but the left-hander won’t be on the mound for the opener Friday in Boston.

That honor will instead go to Nathan Eovaldi, as manager Ron Roenicke officially tabbed the righty as his Opening Day starter against the Orioles.

Roenicke delivered the news to Eovaldi on Friday.

Rodriguez would have been Boston’s Opening Day starter had he not tested positive for COVID-19, keeping him from Summer Camp for the first two-plus weeks of workouts.

Rodriguez wasn’t the only pitcher to return to Fenway on Saturday, as fellow lefty Josh Taylor also made his first appearance since testing positive. Both pitchers threw bullpen sessions prior to the team’s intrasquad game, as Roenicke said the club would “try to slowly get them back in to where they need to be and to really evaluate where they are.”

“Both of them were good,” Roenicke said. “We told them to take it easy; they definitely took it easy. They’re going to go slow here for a while. After a week, we’ll have a good idea of where they’re at. It’s hard to say how long it will take to build Eddie back up. Even though he was throwing, it’s so different.”

Roenicke said that Rodriguez would begin to throw some up-and-down bullpen sessions before progressing to simulated games and live batting practice. Rodriguez will open the season on the injured list, and while Roenicke doesn’t think his ace will pitch during the first week of the season, the manager hinted that the southpaw could make his debut sooner than expected.

“It doesn’t mean he has to get his pitch count up to 85 or anything,” Roenicke said. “If he’s feeling good and we think we can do this in-season, maybe he throws four innings. If we think his four innings are going to be better than somebody else’s, we can fold him in. There’s a lot to think about, but what he does in this next week probably tells us an awful lot.”

As for Taylor, the reliever should be able to return earlier than Rodriguez.

“We just need an inning from him at the start,” Roenicke said. “As we go along, we’d like to get him an inning or two, but at the beginning, one inning is fine. It’s just how quick he can bounce back.”

Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who also tested positive, is in Boston but has not yet returned to Fenway Park.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.