Brian Johnson

Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports

Red Sox Report: Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright unlikely to be ready for season; Michael Chavis hurt

John Tomase
February 25, 2018 - 11:26 am

The Red Sox are auditioning fifth starters.

Manager Alex Cora confirmed on Sunday morning that neither left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez nor knuckleballer Steven Wright will be ready to start the season. That creates an opening in the rotation when the Red Sox need a fifth starter in the opener of a two-game series with the Marlins on April 2.

"It's looking that way," Cora said.

Both Rodriguez and Wright underwent knee surgeries last year. E-Rod went under the knife in October, while Wright was operated on in May.

With the two of them almost certainly sidelined to start the season, the competition for the fifth spot could come down to left-handers Brian Johnson and Roenis Elias, and righty Hector Velazquez. Johnson is slated to start on Sunday vs. the Orioles.

"Brian Johnson, he threw a complete game last year, the only complete game the Red Sox threw last year," Cora noted, though Johnson actually threw the team's only shutout. "I'm looking forward to seeing him. First of all, I'm going to call him Brian, not Brad, like I called him in one meeting. His fastball plays. His breaking ball, changing speeds, he has a pretty good idea of what he can do on the mound. I'm looking forward to seeing him on the mound. We talked before about that fifth spot with Steven and Eduardo. It's a guy we're going to take a look at it early and stretch him out and then make a decision with him as far as where we want him."

Johnson went 2-0 with a 4.33 ERA last year in five starts. His shutout came on May 27 against the Mariners. He walked none, struck out eight, and allowed only five hits in easily the best start of his career.

Elias won 10 games with the Mariners in 2014, but has trended backwards since. He spent virtually all of last year at Triple-A, where he went 1-4 with a 6.62 ERA after suffering an intercostal injury. He made one appearance with the Red Sox, recording a walk and a strikeout.

Velazquez signed out of Mexico and went 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA in Boston last year.


In other injury news, Cora said that prospect Michael Chavis recently strained an oblique while taking a swing and will be sidelined indefinitely.

"The other day he pulled his oblique, so he's going to be out for a while now, for a little bit," Cora said. "We’ll just get back to you probably after the game and get back to that, but he’s off the field right now."

Chavis blasted 31 homers between High-A and Double-A last year and is considered one of the team's most promising prospects.