The Red Sox were hoping the return of No. 1 starter Eduardo Rodriguez would provide a much-needed boost to the rotation, but they’ll have to wait a bit longer.
Rodriguez, who was on his way back after recovering from COVID-19, is being temporarily shut down from baseball activities after the Red Sox medical staff discovered “minor complications” related to lingering effects from the virus. The Red Sox will re-evaluate the lefty in a week.
“It’s a mild case but it’s still serious enough to where we feel like to do the right thing with our players and to take care of them, this is a decision our doctors and Chaim (Bloom) and his crew and all of us have come up with,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said. “So obviously it backs him off from being active and on the field and being able to be part of our staff. It’s disappointing to him, obviously. He came in here after going through the sickness and felt like he was going to be a full go and now a setback.”
Roenicke said that Rodriguez did not test positive again for COVID-19, and he feels OK. The manager said he’s confident that Rodriguez will pitch this season, but with a 60-game season, time is obviously not on their side.
The Red Sox on Thursday announced their 30-man roster to begin the 2020 season, which starts Friday night at Fenway Park against the Orioles.
The biggest snub might have been pitcher Brian Johnson, who was thought to be the fourth starter. Newcomers Zack Godley, who pitched three no-hit innings in Wednesday night’s exhibition game, and Chris Mazza also didn’t make the cut.
The Red Sox will carry 15 pitchers, which includes three starters. Candidates to be openers for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation include Dylan Covey, Matt Hall and Jeffrey Springs.
Utility man Jonathan Arauz, a Rule 5 draft pick, made the team and the Red Sox also decided to carry three catchers into Opening Day. Here’s the full 30-man roster, injured list, and remaining player pool, which will report to the alternate training site at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I. The Red Sox will have to trim their 30-man roster to 28 two weeks after the season starts, and to 26 two weeks after that.
PITCHERS (15): Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Austin Brice, Dylan Covey, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Hall, Heath Hembree, Josh Osich, Martín Pérez, Jeffrey Springs, Phillips Valdez, Marcus Walden, Ryan Weber, Brandon Workman
CATCHERS (3): Jonathan Lucroy, Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez
INFIELDERS (7): Jonathan Araúz, Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis, Rafael Devers, Tzu-Wei Lin, Mitch Moreland, José Peraza
OUTFIELDERS (5): Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Kevin Pillar, Alex Verdugo
Kennedy hopeful about fans
There won’t be fans in Fenway Park when the gates swing open for Opening Day on Friday night, but club President Sam Kennedy still thinks there will be fans at some point this season.
“I do (think it’s possible),” Kennedy said Thursday. “I know it may seem a difficult thing to pull off at this point. That’s why we’re going to walk before we run. The first step is to get games underway, make sure we can pull off everything expected of us from MLB with respect to health and safety protocols. The first step is returning to play.
“But the name of the game for us is preparation. We need to be prepared for the next step, which we hope is bringing fans back on a limited basis at some point in the future. Health and safety is first and foremost for the fans, players and families that work here. But given the outdoor environment, the ability to socially distance, face coverings, hand sanitizers, preregistration for people when they come in, there is a way, I believe, to do it. And to pull it off in a safe way.”
Kennedy said it’s “eerie” to play games without fans but he has no timetable to when fans might be allowed.
Sox on BLM
Kennedy also addressed the Red Sox draping a Black Lives Matter sign behind their park facing the Massachusetts Turnpike.
“This has been a very important issue for John Henry and Tom Werner and the Fenway Sports Group partnership,” Kennedy said. “They spoke up early in 2002 about the shameful history of the Red Sox being the last team to integrate. We have a long way to go as an organization, a front office, a member of the sports industry. … We’re committed to doing the work, committed to amplifying powerful messages for progress, fighting against inequality and justice at every team. So it was important for us to be unambiguous about where we stand for Black Lives Matter.
“We don’t see it as a political statement,” he said. “We see it as a human rights statement.”