The end of Friday’s action at summer camp officially means the Red Sox are just two weeks away from their season opener against the Baltimore Orioles.
Soon, the Red Sox face a decision on starter Eduardo Rodriguez.
Rodriguez tested positive for COVID-19. He was slated to be the team’s Opening Day starter. As the season inches closer, there’s a strong chance Rodriguez won’t be ready for the July 24 opener at Fenway.
“I would say yes,” Roenicke said Friday afternoon when asked if the time to make a decision on Rodriguez was approaching quickly. “I would say it is fast approaching. I don’t want to put days on it but we need to hear some good news pretty soon.”
Rodriguez is still home in Miami and needs to test negative twice before flying and rejoining the team. The rotation is already thin with Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) out for the season. Losing Rodriguez for any amount of time is a significant blow, but it very much might be the Sox’ reality at this point.
“We haven’t talked about what that day is,” Roenicke said. “I know he’s staying active with his arm and throwing some. But, it depends on how long it goes before he gets a couple of test results that come back in our favor.”
In addition to Rodriguez, lefthanded relievers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor remain in isolation after theyalso tested positive. Overall, the Sox are in need of lefthanded arms, which will certainly force the team to give southpaw Jeffrey Springs a closer look in either a starter or relief role.
Springs pitched well in Friday’s intrasquad scrimmage, tossing two innings and striking out six batters in the six-inning, 5-5 tie.
“Springs is definitely in that mix [for a rotation spot],” Roenicke said. “He threw the ball really well today. He’s in that mix for sure. There are four or five guys that can be in that role. We’ll see how they pitch.”
Martin Perez struggled in his first intrasquad outing. The lefthander went four innings, and though he gave up just one run, he walked four batters. He threw 77 pitches in that span and just 42 for strikes. Perez failed to record the third out in the first and fourth innings because of an inning pitch limit.
In the first inning, Perez threw 28 pitches before registering his first and only out of the frame. In the fourth, he recorded two outs.
“First inning, obviously, command. He couldn’t get the ball to the inside part of the plate to righthanders, which he’s usually so good at,” Roenicke said. “He depends on his command. Early in camp, I think it’s why you have these games.”
Perez had success in the Sox’ initial spring training before the season was paused because of the pandemic, tossing 6⅔ innings and striking out 10 batters. He allowed one earned run.
McHugh not ready
Pitcher Collin McHugh (right flexor strain) threw another bullpen session Thursday but the team remains uncertain if he’ll be on the Opening Day roster.
“He’s another guy that’s going to have to start progressing a lot faster if he’s going to be ready for that Opening Day,” Roenicke said. “As you look right now when you talk about two weeks away if he’s not throwing bullpens consistently, if he’s not getting live batting practice, he won’t be ready.”
Roenicke added that McHugh is not comfortable yet giving max effort on his throws.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy said he finally feels healthy after undergoing neck surgery this offseason and he continues to make an impression at Sox camp. In his first two intrasquad games, Lucroy already has four hits. Before the March shutdown, he was hitting .300 (6 for 20) for the spring.
Lucroy is currently fighting for the backup catching spot but the team is also working him out at some first base.
“Any chance to play no matter where it’s at is something I’m open to,” Lucroy said. “I want to be in the lineup because I know I can help this team win at a high level. I’ll do whatever I have to do to be in the lineup.”
Exhibition games set
The Red Sox announced that they’ll play two exhibition games against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 21 and 22 at Fenway. Both games will begin at 7:30 p.m on NESN.
“I think it’s huge,” Roenicke said. “And I think it was really important to get those games at home. I know sometimes you can’t do that. For a while, it didn’t look like we were going to be able to do that. We were going to have to go on the road. This is perfect.”
Former Red Sox Mike Ryan dies
The Red Sox mourned Mike Ryan, who died Tuesday in his sleep in Wolfeboro, N.H. He was 78. Ryan, a Haverhill native, signed with the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1960 and broke into the big leagues in 1964. He spent parts of four seasons with the Sox before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1967.
After his retirement in 1974, he spent 16 seasons, from 1980-1995, as the Phillies bullpen coach. In his first season, he helped the Phillies win their first World Series title.