Red Sox scratch E-Rod from opener; Eovaldi to pitch instead

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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodrguez (57) works against the Minnesota Twins in the second inning of a spring training baseball game, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Fort Myers, Fla.. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Boston Red Sox on Friday scratched Eduardo Rodriguez as the opening day starter because of a “dead arm” that pushed back his final spring tuneup. Nathan Eovaldi will face the Baltimore Orioles in the April 1 opener instead.

Manager Alex Cora said Rodriguez missed a bullpen session on Wednesday, two days after lasting just two innings in a spring training start. He played catch Thursday and felt fine, and Cora said after Friday's 7-3 loss to the Rays that Rodriguez would have a bullpen session on Saturday.

“With the schedule the way it is, he won’t be able to post,” said Cora, who had announced Rodriguez as the opening day starter last week. “It doesn’t add up. You start adding days and you run out of days.”

Rodriguez had also been pegged to start the 2020 season opener before it was delayed by the coronavirus outbreak. The 27-year-old left-hander contracted COVID-19 and related heart problems that kept him from pitching at all last season.

Cora said the current issue is unrelated to the myocarditis.

“It's just dead arm,” the manager said, adding, "going into '20 he was supposed to be the opening day starter. Going into ’21 we announce it, and now he’s not.”

Rodriguez was the most dependable member of the Red Sox rotation in 2019, winning 19 games despite pitching in the shadow of Cy Young winners David Price and Rick Porcello and seven-time All-Star Chris Sale. With Price and Porcello gone and Sale recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2020, Rodriguez inherited the role of ace.

But he never made it to the mound.