The Red Sox have shut down Eduardo Rodriguez for the season, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Saturday afternoon before the second game of their series with the Yankees in New York.
Rodriguez, presumed Boston’s top starting pitcher after the free-agent departure of Rick Porcello, the trade of David Price, and the loss of Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery, tested positive for COVID-19 prior to summer camp. He recovered from the virus but developed myocarditis, which causes inflammation of the heart and impacts the way it pumps. The team shut Rodriguez down for a week and re-evaluated him, but the condition, though mild, was still present.
“From the beginning, when this cropped up, he knew obviously coming back that he was going to need some buildup. But I think this is something that, anybody would be caught off guard by this,” Bloom said. “It’s obviously not something you would expect through the normal course of pitching. It just speaks to the power of the virus that we’re dealing with. He’s handled it well, as you would expect, but it’s also been difficult for him.”
Bloom stressed that Rodriguez’s heart is “functioning normally,” but the persistence of the inflammation, the shortened season, and “the amount of care we need to take with this” made it impossible to safely get him into game shape before year’s end.
The team learned the test results Friday evening. Bloom told Rodriguez’s teammates of the shutdown decision earlier Saturday.
“As you can imagine, it was not easy news to hear or to have to deliver, but I think he knows and we all know we have to take care of him,” Bloom said. “Obviously it’s unfortunate, not something any of us are happy about, least of all Eduardo. But we need to make sure we’re taking care of him. This is not something to mess around with.”
Rodriguez made a major-league best 34 starts and topped 200 innings for the first time in his career last season, going 19-6 with a 3.81 earned-run average. The team expects the 27-year-old to make a full recovery.
“We hope this thing heals up and next year we have the same great pitcher,” manager Ron Roenicke said.