Boston Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez tweaks knee in winter ball

Boston Red Sox left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez was removed from his start in winter ball with right knee discomfort.

Here we go again. That’s the dreadful feeling that Boston Red Sox fans have churning in their stomachs upon hearing the news that Eduardo Rodriguez hurt his knee again.

Rodriguez, who has been pitching for Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela, left Tuesday’s game in the first inning against Tiburones de La Guaira with discomfort in his right knee.

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reports that Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski downplayed the situation by stating that Rodriguez merely tweaked his knee and the injury “doesn’t appear to be anything serious.”

Sure, we’ve heard that before. Rodriguez suffered a subluxation of the patellar tendon last February when he was shagging fly balls in the outfield. At the time it was expected to only be a minor issue, only for a setback to delay his season debut until May 31.

Following a promising first start in Baltimore, E-Rod struggled to the tune of an 0-3 record and an unsightly 10.03 ERA in June. Missing out on the standard spring training routine may have contributed to a slow start, but Rodriguez clearly didn’t trust his recovering knee during those first handful of starts, which led to altered mechanics to compensate.

The 23-year old would eventually settle down, posting a 3.23 ERA over his final 14 starts. A strong second half salvaged what was rapidly turning into a lost season, providing an optimistic outlook on his future. The Red Sox remain high on the young lefty, projecting him as a potential top of the rotation starter when he hits his prime. He certainly pitched like one after the break, but another knee injury has fans fearful of another slow start.

With Clay Buchholz shipped off to Philadelphia, the Red Sox have less rotation depth in the event that Rodriguez isn’t ready to start the season. Drew Pomeranz is a more than capable fill in, but beyond that there aren’t many major league ready arms that the Red Sox can rely on to step into the rotation.

It’s unclear if Rodriguez will get back on the mound for another winter ball start, but the Red Sox would be wise to play it safe by urging him to shut it down until spring. Rodriguez is planning to pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic in March, but he may be better off skipping the tournament unless he is absolutely certain that his knee is no longer an issue.

The good news is that early indications suggest that Rodriguez will be fine, so at this point we should expect him to be ready for spring training. His recent history leaves reason for skepticism, but barring a setback he should be good to go for the 2017 season.

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