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Eduardo Rodriguez to return to the rotation on Thursday

It was indeed a short absence for the staff ace.

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

The Red Sox got their first bit of real bad news of the season shortly before Opening Day when Eduardo Rodriguez experienced some dead arm after his final spring start. The issue was enough to keep him off the roster to start the season, putting him on the injured list in his comeback season following his bout with COVID last year. Fortunately, the absence is not going to be a long one. At his pregame press conference on Tuesday, Alex Cora announced that Rodriguez will indeed be ready to come back this weekend and make his season debut in Baltimore against the Orioles on the series-opener on Thursday.

This is obviously very good news, both because the Red Sox get their best pitcher back in action but also because it was never 100 percent clear he would be ready this quickly. All along Cora and the rest of management indicated it was not a serious issue holding up the lefty, but you never know that’s going to be the case until it’s actually announced. Prior to his tough last outing of spring that led to this minor delay, Rodriguez had been dealing like it was 2019 in his previous starts. If he can bring that stuff back to the table this year, he’ll easily be at the head of this rotation.

The other side of this coin is that Tanner Houck will be optioned to make room. This is a tough one to swallow for many given how well he’s pitched both late last season and in his debut this year, but this was always the plan. Houck will get some time to work on his splitter at the Alternate Site, and the Red Sox will preserve some depth with him being the only pitcher able to be optioned. He should be available out of the bullpen for the next couple of days as well if need be. But I would expect we’ll see him again in the rotation quite soon.