Boston’s Eovaldi hopes to bounce back from an awful 2019.

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              Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) works in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) —

Nathan Eovaldi hopes to bounce back from an awful 2019.

He helped the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series, throwing 97 pitches over six innings in the 18-inning Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Eovaldi allowed Max Muncy’s game-ending home run, his outing was credited as saving the rest of the bullpen, and Boston won Games 4 and 5 to take the title.

After signing a $68 million, four-year contract, he slumped to a 2-1 record with a 5.99 ERA in 12 starts and 11 relief appearances last year. He threw just 67 2/3 innings, slowed by arthroscopic elbow surgery on April 23 to remove loose bodies in his right elbow. He didn’t return until July 20.

“I feel like I’m coming in with a better idea and a better approach, picking up where I left off last year, what I was working,” Eovaldi said. “Had a lot of time to work on it in the offseason and I knew exactly what I wanted to work on.

The 30-year-old right-hander hopes to slot into the rotation behind ace Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodríguez. Sale will start the season in the injured list while building up following pneumonia.

Eovaldi, who has come back from Tommy John surgery in 2007 and 2016, has been reaching 100 mph during spring training.

“If he’s healthy, he’s a big arm,” teammate J.D. Martinez said. “It never hurts when you have a guy like that in your rotation. If he’s healthy and he goes out there and stays healthy, he’s going to be a big piece.:

Eovaldi is 46-54 with a 4.30 ERA in eight big league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2011=12), Miami (2012-14), the New York Yankees (2015-16), Tampa Bay (2018) and Boston.

“He’s huge because we need to keep our starting pitchers healthy, out on the field,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke saidi. “When you’re always trying to go grab guys from your minor leagues to come up or fill in from your bullpen to try to fill starting spots, you can only do that for so long. If you have one injury, you’re usually OK, but you have two or three of your starters go down and you better be really deep to be able to fill that.”

Roenicke attributes much of Eovaldi’s disappointing 2019 to injury.

“It starts with that great stuff,” Roenicke said. “He starts getting command with it and then all of a sudden you have this great pitcher.”