Both Carson Smith and Eduardo Rodriguez are finally nearing their respective returns to action for the Red Sox. Rodriguez will make his first of two-to-three rehab starts with the Portland Sea Dogs next week, while Carson Smith is expected to pitch for Pawtucket come Tuesday.
For Smith, rehab probably won't take much more than a week, making it easy to imagine seeing him make his regular season Red Sox debut in the first days of May. That'll be music to John Farrell's ears, since at the moment he's trying to balance the desire to keep workloads down for Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa with the fact that they're just about the only guys he has faith in to not be total disasters.
Rodriguez will, unsurprisingly, take a bit longer. The Sox said two-or-three rehab starts, but given that the lefty starter didn't get much time at all in spring training before his injury, it seems likelier they'll err on the side of three unless he's clearly 100% ready to go after the first two, even deep into the game. Given that he's not expected to make his first until late in the week, he'll likely take until mid-May before he makes his return to Boston's rotation.
When Rodriguez is ready, chances are he'll be replacing Henry Owens in the rotation, assuming the next few weeks don't prove too momentous for the Red Sox. Steven Wright, who originally took his place in the rotation, has clearly solidified his spot for the time being by virtue of being Boston's best starting pitcher through the first month. What would make things interesting is if Joe Kelly is ready to come back around the same time. But either way, so long as Wright is pitching like he is, the Red Sox will look elsewhere to open up a spot.