March 5 Notes: E-Rod’s Back; Bogaerts Injury Update; Verdugo’s 2021 Spring Debut

There was plenty of good news for the Red Sox on Friday afternoon and it’s headlined by the return of Eduardo Rodriguez. He, of course, missed all of 2020 because he contracted a heart condition called myocarditis. Rodriguez made the start, pitching 2.1 innings and allowing one earned run.

But the fact of the matter is Rodriguez’s performance didn’t mean anything on Friday. It was all about celebrating Rodriguez’s return to a Major League mound. He received a standing ovation as he exited after recording an out in the third.

With that being said, Rodriguez will need to pitch like he did in 2019 when he led the American League in starts (34) if Boston is going to be in the Wild Card race. He is even more important to the rotation considering Chris Sale isn’t going to be back for the start of the season from Tommy John recovery and you just don’t know what you’re going to get out of Garrett Richards.

Xander Bogaerts is dealing with a shoulder issue early in Spring Training but he appears to be ramping back up his activity. According to Alex Cora, his star shortstop is continuing to throw and did so again today. “He threw yesterday. He’s throwing again today,” Cora told the media on Friday. “He feels good.”

Alex Verdugo will also be a key part to the 2021 Red Sox and he made his spring debut on Friday. Manager Alex Cora is undecided on if Verdugo will lead off or hit second in the batting order during the regular season. On Friday, though, he hit second behind Kike Hernandez and started in center field. Verdugo went 1-2, doubling to right field off Rich Hill in his very first at-bat before coming around to score.

Verdugo is coming off his first season in a Red Sox uniform where he was arguably the team’s best position player, as he led the team in WAR (2.2). It was impossible for him to fill Mookie Betts‘ void after he was traded to the Dodgers but he definitely showed that he will be a star in the outfield for years to come.

(Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP)

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