FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez is ready to start pitching again. But he has run out of time to start the regular season with the Red Sox.
Rodriguez is scheduled to throw in the bullpen Wednesday, his first such workout since dislocating his right kneecap Feb. 29.
The two-week layoff means Rodriguez, 22, is essentially starting over and will begin the season on the disabled list.
“He’s going to have to go through spring training,” manager John Farrell said.
Farrell said Rodriguez needs to throw in the bullpen at least three times before getting into a game. From there, he will need six starts to build up to the 23-25 spring innings the Sox typically want from their starters before the start of the regular season. That timetable would have Rodriguez available near the end of April. He would miss at least three starts.
“We have to do what’s right by him,” Farrell said. “He’s a talented young guy and we can’t skip steps. But I’m not here to announce a roster move. We all see what’s taking place with the calendar.”
In alphabetical order, Roenis Elias, Henry Owens, and Steven Wright are the candidates to replace Rodriguez in the rotation. In terms of performance in camp, Wright has a lead on the two lefties.
Wright has allowed two earned runs over seven innings in two starts. Owens has given up four runs over 7⅔ innings in three starts and Elias five runs in 4⅔ innings over three appearances.
Wright will pitch on Wednesday, Owens on Thursday, and Elias on Friday.
Castillo hopeful on Cuba
Rusney Castillo was heartened to hear that the Rays will play the Cuban national team March 22 in Havana.
“It’s great that the Rays are going over to play in Cuba,” he said. “It has been a long time since a major league team was there. It’s a great thing for Cuba and for the Rays. I’m glad to see baseball is doing this and bringing the countries closer together.”
Castillo defected from Cuba in 2013 and signed with the Red Sox eight months later. His wife accompanied him to the United States, but other family members remain in Cuba and Castillo’s interactions with them are sporadic.
With the assistance of translator Daveson Perez, Castillo said he has been following the situation closely.
“I would love to go back and play,” he said. “That is my big hope. That is where I started playing baseball and where my family is. That is a dream of mine, to go back and play for the Cuban team someday or just to go back in general. I hope the Red Sox can go someday.”
Seven players demoted
The Red Sox made what is to date their largest roster cut. Outfielder Bryce Brentz, infielder Sean Coyle, lefthanded reliever Edwin Escobar, and righthanded pitcher Pat Light were optioned to Triple A Pawtucket.
Lefthanded reliever Williams Jerez was optioned to Double A Portland.
Third baseman Chris Dominguez and catcher Ali Solis were reassigned to minor league camp.
The Sox now have 48 players in camp.
Brentz, Coyle, and Escobar are candidates to be designated for assignment should the Red Sox need a roster spot. Their careers have stalled in Triple A.
Brentz, 27, struck out 11 times in 15 at-bats in camp.
Light, 24, is the most intriguing prospect of the group because of his high-90s fastball. However, he struck out only one of the 25 batters he faced in spring training.
“He’s got a big arm. There’s no denying the velocity,” Farrell said, “Two keys for him for his further progression are going to be consistent fastball location and can he throw that split for strikes?
“That’s the one pitch that allows him to get back into counts. It gives him a second pitch to get guys off his fastball. The refinement of those two are the difference from Pawtucket to Boston.
“There’s still work to be done. He’s not a finished product. But he got exposed to some major league hitters here, which is all you’re trying to get accomplished that first year in camp.”
Swihart is set
Blake Swihart, who was struck in the mask by a foul ball Sunday, is set to start Wednesday night against the Twins. He came away with only a bruise on the chin. Swihart was fortunate. His mask was dented enough that he got a new one. Swihart could have played Tuesday but Farrell felt it prudent to give him an extra day . . . Righthander Michael Kopech was found to have a displaced fracture in his right hand and had a screw inserted in Boston on Tuesday. He will be out approximately six weeks. Kopech, 19, was injured in a fight with a teammate last week. Kopech, a supplemental first-round pick in 2014, is one of the team’s top prospects. He was suspended 50 games last season for using a banned stimulant.