Red Sox's Eduardo Rodriguez 'Ready to Go' After COVID-19, Myocarditis Recovery

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2021

FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019 file photo, Boston Red Sox's Eduardo Rodriguez pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Boston. Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodríguez argued his case Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 asking for a raise to $8,975,000 rather than the $8.3 million offer of the Red Sox. A right-hander who turns 27 in April, Rodríguez was a career-best 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA in 34 starts last season, when he made $4,325,000. He is eligible for free agency after the 2021 season.(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez said Friday that he is healthy and ready to play in 2021 after missing all of 2020 with myocarditis.

Rodriguez was diagnosed with COVID-19 before the 2020 season and was later diagnosed with myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart linked to COVID.

According to ESPN's Joon Lee, Rodriguez said: "At the beginning of COVID, I just wanted a chance to get past through that. Thank God I have a chance to survive that part and be available to get back to baseball and get cleared. ... I did everything that I can to get back to 100 percent, and now I'm here. I'm ready to go."

The 27-year-old Rodriguez arrived at Red Sox spring training this week, and he is slated to be a huge part of Boston's starting rotation in 2021.

Rodriguez made 23 regular-season starts for the Red Sox in 2018 and started one World Series game that season en route to Boston winning a title, and he followed that up with his best MLB season in 2019.

That year, Rodriguez went 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, and he also struck out a career-high 213 batters in 203.1 innings.

Rodriguez had never pitched more than 137.1 innings in a season before 2019 and had never made more than 24 starts in a single season, but he led the American League with 34 starts two seasons ago.

Per Lee, Rodriguez said myocarditis resulted in him feeling a great deal of fatigue, but after resting for three months plus the offseason, he is feeling good ahead of the 2021 season.

With Rodriguez out and Chris Sale missing the entire 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Boston's starting rotation was significantly limited last season.

As a result, the Red Sox had the third-worst team ERA in MLB last season at 5.58, and they finished last in the AL East at 24-36.

Pitching still projects to be a problem area for the Red Sox in 2021, but there is far more reason for optimism than there was last season.

Rodriguez is likely the favorite to be Boston's Opening Day starter, plus free-agent acquisition Garrett Richards could provide a boost.

Additionally, Sale could return sometime during the 2021 campaign if his recovery from Tommy John surgery continues to go well.

Reaching the playoffs in a division inhabited by the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays will be a huge challenge for the Red Sox in 2021, but they should at least be far more competitive than they were for much of last season.