April 21, 2021

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Boston Red Sox notebook: Eduardo Rodriguez ready for season debut in Baltimore, Michael Chavis on taxi squad for road trip

BOSTON — Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez’s long-awaited return to the mound will happen Thursday afternoon in Baltimore.

Rodriguez, who started the season on the 10-day injured list after battling “dead arm” late in spring training, will be activated Thursday ahead of Boston’s road opener at Camden Yards. For the 28-year-old (Rodriguez’s birthday was Wednesday) the return to action was a long time coming.

“It will mean a lot because of everything I went through last year,” he said Wednesday. “I just was happy to have the opportunity to be back in baseball and be back to start tomorrow.”

Rodriguez will not have a hard pitch limit, manager Alex Cora said, but the Red Sox don’t plan to push him against the O’s. It’s likely Boston will take a conservative approach with Rodriguez, who missed the 2020 season after being diagnosed with myocarditis — or heart inflammation — caused by COVID-19.

“He’s good to go,” Cora said. “Looking forward to him to pitch tomorrow. He really wanted to pitch today because it’s his birthday. Good for him, but no. We’re very happy. He’ll be okay tomorrow. He’ll be ready to go.”

Since first experiencing discomfort March 22 in a spring start against the Rays, Rodriguez has worked with team trainers to strengthen his shoulder in an effort to return to the rotation as soon as possible. He was scratched from his scheduled start on Opening Day but only missed one turn through the rotation.

“It was hard for me because I wanted to really go out there for the first game of the season,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t want to miss any starts so that’s the way I like to be, to go out there every five days from the beginning all the way until the end.”

Rodriguez, who is due to be a free agent after the season, said he won’t be nervous heading into his first outing in nearly 18 months. He’s excited to once again lead the Red Sox’ rotation.

“Now I’m 100% and I’m ready to go tomorrow,” Rodriguez said.

Devers rounding into form

Third baseman Rafael Devers was 0-for-3 with a walk in Wednesday’s win and is now 2-for-19 (.105) with an RBI and five strikeouts in six games so far this season. His best game of the year came Tuesday, when he went 2-for-5.

Before then, Cora saw some encouraging signs that Devers was about to break out.

“I think, on Sunday, he hit the ball hard three times,” Cora said. “You can tell that he’s getting there. Obviously, it didn’t start well but he got a good pitch yesterday to hit. I think the lefty-lefty base hit told me more about where he’s at. To be able to track the ball and shoot it the other way, that’s a good sign.”

The Red Sox have faced three lefties in their first three games — John Means, Bruce Zimmermann and Ryan Yarbrough. That has made things difficult for Devers, who is much better against righties in his career.

“We didn’t face too many lefties ins spring training,” Cora said. “It seemed like we faced a righty all the time. Spring training prepares you for the season and all of the sudden, you go out there and face two (lefties) right away, we get one today and we get another one in two days or three days in Baltimore.

“Sometimes you need that. As a left-handed hitter, just to stay on pitches, that angle. You track the ball better, you stay on top of it and you go the other way. Hopefully, that’s a good sign. He stayed on a breaking ball, hit it hard to right field and then the other one was a good one.

Chavis on taxi squad

Infielder Michael Chavis is on Boston’s taxi squad for the road trip to Baltimore and Minnesota, multiple sources said. The Red Sox can bring up to five additional players — including at least one catcher — for each road trip this season. Those players would be the first ones activated if someone on the 26-man active roster is

The Red Sox will make a roster move before Thursday’s game, activating Rodriguez for his start. Boston played with 25 players on Wednesday after optioning righty Tanner Houck to the alternate site in Worcester after Tuesday’s game.

O’s rematch starts Thursday

The Red Sox will try to enact revenge against the Orioles this weekend after being swept a week ago. Here are the pitching probables (Friday is an off day for both clubs):

Thursday, 3:05 p.m. — LHP Eduardo Rodriguez vs. RHP Matt Harvey

Saturday, 7:05 p.m. — RHP Garrett Richards vs. LHP Bruce Zimmermann

Sunday, 1:05 p.m. — RHP Nick Pivetta vs. RHP Jorge Lopez

Related links:

Boston Red Sox sweep Rays as Nathan Eovaldi throws 7 strong innings, Christian Vázquez homers again in 9-2 win in finale

Boston Red Sox’s Christian Vázquez says he’s ‘feeling sexy at the plate’ after hitting second homer in as many games, driving in 3 runs vs. Rays

Nathan Eovaldi has 1.46 ERA through first two starts for Boston Red Sox: ‘He was amazing’ on Wednesday, Alex Cora says

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