Red Sox notes: Eduardo Rodriguez slowed by knee ailment; Chris Sale thinks he will be ready for Opening Day


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It doesn't seem to be a big issue, but it is a powerful reminder of the importance that Eduardo Rodriguez represents.

The lefty starter is pushing his scheduled start from Sunday to Monday - performing on the back fields at JetBlue Park - after experiencing soreness in his left knee. While it isn't the leg he had surgically repaired the soreness (which began after slipping on the mound during workouts last week) is enough for the Sox to reconfigure their plans.

"When he fell the other day, the knee got a little sore," said Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke. "It is not like the other knee where he had issues, this is a minor thing, at least right now it certainly is. but he’s still a little uncomfortable with it, it’s better every day. So what we’re going to do is push him back a day, push him back to Monday, we're going to do it on a backfield and it’s going to be an up and down against hitters. We’re going to still have our trackman out there to make sure he’s getting the effort we think he needs to progress. If everything goes well he’s going to be right in line with his next start in a game instead of just starting with two innings, he’ll go straight to three. So that’s what we’re hoping for him, that this is good Monday and we’re not going to miss a beat. ...  So that’s where we are on him, but like I said, he’s feeling better. He’s feeling really good and played catch today and then he’ll throw a little off the mound today to make sure everything is good and that’s our plans for Monday."

"I was throwing before live BP and fell down. Nothing like that, just my spike got stuck a little bit on it, went over my knee," said Rodriguez when asked to compare the recent incident with getting hurt during a 2016 spring training drill. "It’s good now that I know how to roll it when something like that happens. We just push it one day for that. Went outside today to throw a normal bullpen for spring. It was great. Not too concerned about it.

"I know how it is when something is really, really bad. What happened to my right knee like 10 times. Now I know how it is. That was not even close to the one with the right knee."

Taking Rodriguez's spot Sunday is Chris Mazza, who Roenicke identified as one of the candidates to man the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation (either as a legitimate starter or opener).

- Chris Sale is progressing as well as the Red Sox could have hoped considering his time missed due to pneumonia. But will be enough to be ready for Opening Day on March 26?

"I think I’m going to be ready for it. But like I said, those aren’t my calls to make. I go out there, do my job, tell them how I feel on a daily basis," Sale said. "Obviously as the workload picks up, we have to see how things work out. I’ve just got to be open and honest with them and then we map out a plan and see how it works out."

Sale is slated to perform another side session Sunday.

- Brian Johnson, who pitched a perfect one inning in starting the Red Sox' tilt against the Rays Saturday, isn't on the 40-man roster, but remains in the conversation for playing a role on the big league team.

"It’s different when you’re a non-roster but it’s not that different," Roenicke said. "I think it’s easy to pop him on if he’s the guy. So I think he needs to go about it the same as he’s always gone about it. Whether you’re trying to be that fifth starter on the roster or off, you go about it the same way. The nice thing about him is we know he can also be a long reliever. We need that and think that’s important. With the new three-batter minimum, those left-handed specialists aren’t as important as the guy who can go through lineups, whether it’s lefty or righty. And two innings, the more we can get relievers to go multiple innings is way more valuable."

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— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) February 22, 2020