FORT MYERS, Fla. — Martín Pérez and Nate Eovaldi were among the first Red Sox players to arrive at Field 1 at Fenway South late Tuesday morning.
They were soon joined by Xander Bogaerts, Darwinzon Hernández, Marcus Walden, Phillips Valdéz, and a few others.
They were all there to watch Eduardo Rodríguez take the mound and face hitters for the first time in nearly a year.
Throwing 15 pitches to three teammates isn’t really a comeback. But it was an important step on the road back from Rodríguez, who missed last season after contracting a nasty case of coronavirus that led to inflammation of the heart muscle.
“They know what happened. He’s a great teammate,” manager Alex Cora said. “He’s a great pitcher; he’s a great baseball player. He’s a better human being and a great teammate. He’s one of those guys that people look up to.”
Rodríguez was set to be the Opening Day starter last season before the pandemic struck. Cora hasn’t named his starter for this season, but Rodríguez is a good bet to be on the mound April 1 against Baltimore.
Martinez is pro-DH
As you would expect, J.D. Martinez favors the idea of a universal designated hitter.
“I think it’s time,” he said. “I think everybody knows it’s time. Even the owners, the players, even the fans, they know it’s time. Everybody wants offense.”
As one of the best DHs in the game, Martinez has selfish reasons to want 15 more teams having a DH. The sticking point has been MLB using the universal DH as a bargaining chip with the Players Association.
“To me, it’s the future of the game,” Martinez said. “We keep pushing back and forth, back and forth.”
Martinez, 33, hopes to play into his 40s, as David Ortiz did and Nelson Cruz is now doing.
“Those guys give me motivation,” said Martinez, who worked out a few times with Cruz this winter.
Young man’s game
The Sox have 18-year-old infielder Nick Yorke in camp after taking him in the first round of the draft last year. “It made me feel old,” Cora said. “Camila [Cora’s daughter] turns 18 in March. You’re like, ‘Wow, this is unreal.’ Cora suggested to Yorke that he would be wise to follow the lead of Bogaerts during his time in camp … Backup catcher Kevin Plawecki, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, could rejoin the team in the next day or so. Franchy Cordero, who also tested positive, is at least a week away. Infielder Marwin Gonzalez, who was delayed in traveling from his home in the Houston area because of the weather in Texas last week, should arrive soon. The Sox have yet to add him to the 40-man roster … Nick Pivetta and Bryan Mata also threw live batting practice. Pivetta showed a sharp cutter, while Mata was overthrowing a bit … Martinez has been in touch with Jackie Bradley Jr. and the free agent center fielder told him he’s had a few offers and is waiting for a team to “take the next step” in negotiations. There are no indications the Red Sox are involved.