Red Sox lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez confirmed Sunday that he is battling myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle most commonly caused by a viral infection.
Myocarditis can diminish the heart’s ability to pump blood. In Rodriguez’s case, the diagnosis was a result of his bout with COVID-19. Rodriguez has been shut down from doing all baseball activities and will be reassessed Friday.
“Emotionally, it’s really hard because when I got here I was supposed to start getting ready,” Rodriguez said prior to Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Orioles. “And then we do the MRI and we get that [result] and I get the news that I have to rest for a week. It was hard for me. At least we know what’s going on.”
Rodriguez threw two bullpen sessions when he was cleared to return to the team last week. Manager Ron Roenicke said in the first session Rodriguez was fatigued, though he added Rodriguez was better in the second one. Despite the risk, Rodriguez said he hasn’t given any thought to opting out of this season.
"I want to be out there every time I can," Rodriguez said. "I never thought about opting out of the season. I feel bad every time I see a game happening and I'm not in the dugout."
The Red Sox could certainly use Rodriguez, their No. 1 starter. They have had to piece together the rotation and Martin Perez, who was hit hard in Saturday’s loss to the Orioles, hasn’t proved himself worthy as a No. 2 starter. Still, health is the most important part of all of this for Rodriguez and the Sox.
“[The heart] is the most important part of your body,” Rodriguez said. “The first time I heard it, I was kind of scared a little. I talked to my mom. I talked to my wife and let them know what I have. I’m just going to take a rest because that’s the heart and you don’t want to take a risk with that.”
Godley will get call
The Red Sox selected righthander Zack Godley to their major league roster and optioned Dylan Covey to their alternate training site in Pawtucket.
Roenicke said before the Sox’ loss to the Orioles that the plan is for Godley to pitch in Monday’s game against the New York Mets. He will follow Josh Osich, who will be the opener.
Godley pitched three scoreless innings in the exhibition game against the Toronto Blue Jays, but the Sox didn’t feel as if he was stretched out enough, so he wasn’t on the Opening Day roster. The Sox hope Godley can eat up some innings as they attempt to patch together this rotation. He struggled last season, putting together a 5.97 ERA in 92 innings. He’s a mediocre pitcher at best, but he won 15 game for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018 while posting a 4.74 ERA.
Godley hopes to return to his old form.
“Honestly, I’m just trying to throw strikes and let my ball work,” Godley said. “Do exactly what I did against the Blue Jays. Fill up the zone. Force those guys to swing the bat and get outs quickly and keep moving inning to inning. I think when I do that, it really builds that snowball effect and good things happen and I can go deep into ballgames.”
Benintendi stays at top
Andrew Benintendi had the day off Sunday with lefthander Wade LeBlanc starting, but when Benintendi is in the lineup, the Sox expect him to be in the leadoff spot.
“I feel good with [Benintendi] in that leadoff spot,” Roenicke said. “I know [Jose] Peraza can do it. But Benintendi is what I’m thinking of.”
Benintendi looked rejuvenated at the plate during summer camp, but is hitless through his first two games. Alex Verdugo played left field and batted seventh after racking up three hits in Saturday’s contest. He was 0 for 4 Sunday. Verdugo’s splits indicate he doesn’t have problems hitting lefties. Entering Sunday’s contest he was a career .317 hitter (40 for 126) against lefthanders. He didn’t have as much success against LeBlanc, going 0 for 2 against him, but the team is bullish on his ability and think they can bat him almost anywhere in the lineup. Moving him up in the lineup, though would require consistent production.
"Here's a guy that we really like," Roenicke said. "He could end up [batting] five, or six or he could end up one or two. There's a lot of different places that I think that he could end up. The thing is when you look at our lineup, that's a good lineup. So, to put him in a slot that's a little further up, he needs to be swinging the bat really well."
Taylor, Hernandez not close
Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez are still a ways away from rejoining the team. Both have thrown bullpens since being cleared to return to the field after contracting COVID-19, but are still trying to get back into pitching shape … The Red Sox claimed Robert Stock off waivers from the Phillies, the team announced. Stock had a 10.13 ERA in just 10⅔ innings last year, but was more effective the year before: 2.50 ERA in 39⅔ innings, totaling 38 strikeouts … President Donald Trump tweeted that he will not throw out the first pitch Aug. 15 when the Sox travel to New York to play the Yankees.