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Red Sox at Rays lineups: E-Rod works toward Opening Day

Can the Sox’s No. 1 starter continue his walk-free March?

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Red Sox and Rays are back at it at 1:05 p.m. for a nice-inning tilt in Port Charlotte, Fla. This one is on the Rays station, so those with an MLB.TV sub can tune in.

Eduardo Rodriguez is back on the hill in his likely second-to-last tuneup before his scheduled Opening Day start against the Orioles on April 1, when he will become the first Venezuelan-born player to open a season on the mound for Boston. Per MassLive’s Chris Cotillo, it was always Cora’s intention to have E-Rod toe the rubber in the season-opener, but he needed to make sure the lefty would be ready, which he apparently is, having put together a 14:0 K:BB ratio so far this March:

“It’s not fair to tell him, ‘Hey, you’re going to be the guy’ and then all of the sudden he can’t go three, four or five (innings),” Cora said. “But that was really good today. He’s so sharp right now I wish his next start was April 1.”

Today, Rodriguez will be followed by Hirokazu Sawamura, Darwinzon Hernández, Kaleb Ort, Josh Winckowski and Matt Hall.

He’s not the only one ready for the regular season. The Sox lead the Grapefruit League in virtually every hitting category, and while that means nada for the regular season, it’s better than the opposite. Bobby Dalbec leads the in RBIs and runs and bats fifth today for his troubles; Franchy Cordero is all the way up at third in the order while also playing in the field for the first time this spring, with a bunch of the lineup getting the day off. This means we see Jarren Duran batting leadoff, where we might see him when he eventually is promoted to the team—a circumstance he’s pushing sooner and sooner with every three-hit performance, which seems to happen every time he gets a start.

For the Rays, perpetually injured prospect Brent Honeywell makes his first start against another team since 2017. If Honeywell can pitch to form, which is an admittedly big “if,” he’s got serious Tim Lincecum potential, which, although it would be bad for the Sox, would be a nice thing for a guy who has suffered through a lot just to get here. Don’t be surprised if emotions are running high in the Tampa Bay clubhouse today, because this is a legit feel-good story.

Red Sox lineup

1. Jarren Duran, CF

2. Christian Vázquez, C

3. Franchy Cordero, LF

4. Xander Bogaerts, DH

5. Hunter Renfroe, RF

6. Bobby Dalbec, 3B

7. Christian Arroyo, 2B

8. Michael Chavis, 1B

9. Jonathan Araúz, SS

SP: Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

Rays lineup

1. Manuel Margot, RF

2. Randy Arozarena, DH

3. Austin Meadows, LF

4. Yandy Díaz, 3B

5. Mike Brosseau, 1B

6. Brandon Lowe, 2B

7. Willy Adames, SS

8. Kevin Kiermaier, CF

9. Brett Sullivan, C

SP: Chris Ellis, RHP