NORTH PORT, Fla. -- What a difference a year makes.
Only a year ago, Eduardo Rodriguez was the Baby Brother in the Red Sox starting rotation, being mentored by the older starting pitchers in the group and still learning his craft. Former manager Alex Cora upbraided Rodriguez for not being efficient enough in a spring start in Port St. Lucie and acknowledged that the lefty sometimes needed the benefit of "tough love.''
All of that was before Rodriguez led the Red Sox staff in wins (19), inning pitches (203.1) and strikeouts (2013) and established himself as one of the American League's best starters.
And now, with David Price (trade) and Rick Porcello (free agent) gone and Chris Sale unavailable for the start of the season, Rodriguez is, for now, the ace of the staff and poised to be the Sox' Opening Day starter when the Sox begin their season March 26 in Toronto.