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Eduardo Rodriguez scratched from Opening Day start

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Not an ideal start to a Friday morning.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Well, the Red Sox gave a little bit of distressing news to start us off here on this final Friday of spring training. After announcing earlier in camp that Eduardo Rodriguez would indeed be the team’s Opening Day starter, Alex Cora announced this will no longer be the case. Due to what he called some “dead arm,” Rodriguez has been scratched from Thursday’s game at Fenway against the Orioles.

In his stead, Nathan Eovaldi will make his second consecutive Opening Day start for the Red Sox. The good news here for Rodriguez, at least for now, is that they are hoping to avoid a stint on the injured list, though that is still up in the air. The plan is for him to throw a bullpen in the next few days and they will determine the plan moving forward from there.

For a team whose success largely depends on the health of their rotation, this is an inauspicious start to the year. Right now it certainly doesn’t appear to be anything serious, but this sort of thing was obviously a concern around Rodriguez this season after he missed all of 2020 following a bout with COVID, after which he was diagnosed with myocarditis. Workload was always going to be an issue, and it makes sense to be extremely cautious with him.

Rodriguez had looked fantastic in his first few starts, but his last time out he just didn’t look nearly as crisp, leading to some dead arm speculation. That was dismissed a bit after the game, but it appears that was indeed the case. If the Red Sox are going to make a run this year, they need someone in this rotation to step up while the await the return of Chris Sale, whenever that may be. Rodriguez remains the best chance at that, so hopefully this is not a long-term concern and he will make his first start just a few games after Opening Day.

If he is not able to do so and a stint on the injured list does end up being needed, it will be interesting to see how they approach the rotation. It’s worth noting they can go with a four-man rotation the first couple of times through thanks to two early days off, but they also probably want to limit workloads early on and giving that extra day of rest was likely part of that plan. I’d expect Matt Andriese to step into the rotation, but Tanner Houck could presumably be an option as well. For now, though, the team is hoping that won’t have to be a consideration either way.