BOSTON (CBS) — Eduardo Rodriguez missed the entire 2020 season due to a case of COVID-19 and the development of myocarditis. The 27-year-old was set to make his return for the Red Sox next week, getting the honor of being the team’s Opening Day starter.

That return, though, will have to wait.

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Manager Alex Cora announced Friday morning that Rodriguez’s first start of the year is being pushed back, because the left-hander is suffering from a “dead arm.”

“We decided that we’re going to push Eddy back,” Cora said. “I think it’s just dead arm. He didn’t feel as strong as the previous outings, arm-wise. The shoulder, arm, you know, there’s nothing specific there. But it’s one of those, if he wants — he’s pushing. He pushed hard for Thursday. But I think the smart thing from my end and from our end is to play smart. Take the decision out of the player, and we made the decision for him.”

Rodriguez left his start on Monday after just two innings. He allowed three hits and issued his first two walks of the spring in that outing, surrendering two runs (one earned). Prior to that outing, he had allowed three earned runs in 11.2 innings across three starts.

Cora said Rodriguez played catch on Thursday, and the team will have a better idea of his status either Friday night or Saturday morning.

“You start adding days, and you run out of days,” Cora said. “It sucks for him, because going into ’20, he was supposed to be the Opening Day starter. Going into ’21, we announced it, and now he’s not. But like I told him yesterday, I said, ‘Hey man, the way you throw the ball, the way your career is going, at one point in your career, you will be an Opening Day starter. Maybe more than once.’ So he took it as a professional. As you guys know with him, the communication is very clear, it’s very genuine. For him to accept it and think about the future and not the first game of the season, is a testament to who he is right now as a pitcher, as a person, as a leader on this team.”

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Cora said it’s too early to speculate whether or not Rodriguez will need to start the season on the Injured List, noting that Rodriguez “felt good” after playing catch and will next need to throw a bullpen to continue the progression.

With Rodriguez out, Nathan Eovaldi will be the Opening Day starter on April 1.

“What we’re going to do, Nate is going to start Opening Day. He’s in line to do that, and there’s no problem with that, the way that we presented it to him and to the pitching staff,” Cora said.

Eovaldi started on Opening Day for the Red Sox last year, allowing one run in his six innings of work against Baltimore. He struck out four batters and walked one in that game, which the Red Sox won 13-2. That was the only point of the season that the Red Sox had a winning record.

Cora said that Eovaldi won’t be pitching in any more spring games.

“It’s all about in the back fields. Bullpen today, probably a bullpen on Monday, and he’ll be ready for Thursday,” he said.

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Eovaldi’s made four starts this spring, posting a 1-0 record and a 6.60 ERA. He’s allowed 21 hits and three walks in his 15 innings of work, while striking out 13 batters. He made just nine starts last year in the regular season, posting a 4-2 record and a 3.72 ERA.

CBSBoston.com Staff