Red Sox

Red Sox Notebook: ERod expects to make 30-plus starts; focus on defense; who hits leadoff?

(Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox via Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez didn't throw a single pitch last season, sideswiped by a combination of COVID-19 and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart).

For any pitcher, making the leap from a 60-game schedule to a normal 162-game slate, that would represent a big leap forward. For someone who didn't pitch at all, the jump is almost unimaginable.

Still, Rodriguez is confident that that he can navigate a full workload.

''That's what I was working on this offseason -- getting my body ready, getting my mind ready, my conditioning and everything like that,'' said Rodriguez in a Zoom call Friday, "to get here and be available to go out there every five days, be able to make 30-plus starts. I feel in that position right now. I feel stronger right now, I feel better. My shoulder is good. I threw a bullpen a couple of days ago and it feels fine, feels great. So, I feel ready.''

Manager Alex Cora, recognizing the importance of protecting his lefty, also believes he's capable of a full, normal workload.

"Physically, he's a in a good spot,'' said Cora. "The most important thing is, he's healthy. For him to be able to work out and go through his progression and be in the position he's in, amazing. As far the usage and all that, obviously we have to pay attention. But that doesn't mean we're going to slow him down. Obviously, the way he reacts is going to let us know. But so far, so good.

"He got clearance to do everything. He's been working hard since October, or even before. As always, we're preparing for 162 games. We'll take care of them. It was a shorter season so there's a lot of unknown. A lot of people think because it was a shorter season, guys won't be able to go 200 innings. We don't know. This the first time this has happened. These are professional athletes, elite athletes. To decide that because last year was a short season or you didn't pitch, we decided to go 100 or 110 innings, I don't think that's fair to them.

"We'll get together with the training staff, the doctors, sports science and obviously with the player and decide what to do. He can handle the workload, going 115-120 pitches. When he's healthy, when he's right, he's one of the best lefties in the big leagues.''