USA Today Sports

There's actually a chance Eduardo Rodriguez or Steven Wright could pitch in Red Sox' first series

Rob Bradford
March 21, 2018 - 12:16 pm

The first Sunday of the Red Sox' regular season could offer some added intrigue.

Talking to reporters Wednesday morning, Alex Cora suggested there was a chance Eduardo Rodriguez could make his first start of the season in the Sox' series finale against the Rays. Such a move would be well ahead of the schedule most predicted for Rodriguez, who has been coming back from knee surgery.

"He’ll get on the mound for three innings in three days and we go from there. So far, so good," Cora said. "He’s putting himself in a position that he might come out – we might use him sooner than later, so we’ll see." The manager added, "Calendar-wise, it works for us. I’m not saying he will be available that first week or the second one, but at least the way it’s mapped out, there’s a chance."

Cora went on to clarify that part of the plan for Rodriguez is to not have him participate in either of the two games in Miami. The team doesn't want to risk Rodriguez running the bases during interleague play.

"Kind of like, if it happens, it’s going to be in Tampa, I’m saying that’s not like …. it’s less than 50 percent. But if it happens, it’s that day," Cora told reporters. "If not, but schedule-wise, we set it up that if he pushes himself and he looks great, then we’re in a position that we can use him."

Another option for that Sunday start also continues to be Steven Wright, who has experienced good and bad results during his continued path back from his own knee issue.

"With him, [Thursday] is a big day again for him. he’s going out there four innings after that. With everybody, it’s day by day. They react so differently. They have good days and bad days. So hopefully [Friday] … For him, the day that he pitches is not the one that it matters. It’s the day after. We’ll see how he reacts after that. He’s still in play."

With both of the starters in the mix to return for that first time through the rotation, with each ruled out for interleague play, it is almost certain Brian Johnson will slot in for the series opener at Miami April 2.

If Rodriguez or Wright aren't ready to go against the Rays, the other option will likely be Hector Velazquez. Drew Pomeranz (strained flexor tendon) is slightly behind the other starters and almost certainly will begin the regular season on the disabled list.