Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was solid in three spring training appearances but had some arm soreness after his most recent outing and has been scratched from his Opening Day start. Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

For the second time in as many seasons, Eduardo Rodriguez will miss out on making an Opening Day start for the Red Sox.

Boston Manager Alex Cora delivered the news Friday morning, saying Rodriguez is suffering through what is commonly referred to as a dead arm period and will not take the ball Thursday against the Orioles.

Rodriguez did not pitch for the club in 2020 after testing positive for COVID-19 and developing myocarditis, an inflammation of his heart muscle. The left-hander threw just a pair of short bullpen sessions at summer camp prior to being shut down from all physical activity.

This is the first real setback Rodriguez has experienced since resuming his workouts in the offseason.

Cora said the current issue is unrelated to the myocarditis.

“He pushed hard for Thursday,” Cora said. “But I think the smart thing from my end, from our end, is to play it smart. Take the decision from the player – we made the decision for him.”

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Nathan Eovaldi will start on Opening Day for Boston for the second straight year. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Nathan Eovaldi started the opener in Rodriguez’s place last year will do so again next week, Cora said. To prepare, he will have two more bullpen sessions before the team breaks camp in Fort Myers, Florida.

“He’s built up as far as the pitches and all that,” Cora said. “He’s ready to go. It’s just a matter of how we manage his week.”

Rodriguez finished just two innings in his most recent spring start against the Rays on Monday.

“He didn’t feel as strong as the previous outings arm-wise,” Cora said. “Shoulder, arm – there’s nothing specific there.”

Rodriguez was razor-sharp in his previous start against the Twins, striking out six, walking none and allowing just two hits. He needed just 51 pitches to record 15 outs.

Rodriguez was the most dependable member of the Red Sox rotation in 2019, winning 19 games despite pitching in the shadow of Cy Young winners David Price and Rick Porcello and seven-time All-Star Chris Sale. With Price and Porcello gone and Sale recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2020, Rodriguez inherited the role of ace.

But he never made it to the mound.

This year, he is crucial if the team is to have any hope of competing in the AL East. Cora said it was too early to tell if Rodriguez will need to start the season on the injury list.

“We’ll see how it plays out for him to get back to the mound,” Cora said. “There’s a lot of unknowns. Their bodies are going to let us know how we treat them.”

This could have been viewed as something of a limited window for Rodriguez to serve as Boston’s ace. He’ll be a free agent after this season if the Red Sox don’t sign him to a contract extension.

“Like I told (Rodriguez) yesterday, the way he throws the ball and the way his career is going, at one point in his career he’s going to be an Opening Day starter – maybe more than once,” Cora said. “He took it as a professional.

“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, it’s a testament to who he is as a pitcher, as a person and as a leader on this team.”

CHRISTIAN VAZQUEZ will undergo more testing, but he feels better after an errant throw struck him in the face during a practice Thursday, Cora said Friday.

He was scratched from Thursday’s game against the Twins because of what the team called an eye contusion and laceration under his left eye. He already has undergone some testing.

“Christian has to deal with something at home in Miami,” Cora said Friday. “He won’t be in camp (today). He felt better last night. He felt better this morning. He’ll be back in camp tomorrow. There’s more testing. The goal is for him to be ready for Thursday.”

GARRETT WHITLOCK, a Rule 5 draftee from the Yankees, has been told that he’ll be on the Opening Day roster, said Cora. The 24-year-old righty has struck out 12 in nine innings while allowing one run in four outings this spring.

“It’s a great moment when you tell somebody that you’re going to be a big leaguer,” Cora said. “It’s priceless.”

Whitlock did not pitch last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. But the Red Sox had seen enough of him through 2019 to take a chance on him in the Rule 5 minor league draft. A player selected must remain on the roster the entire season or be offered back to his original team.

“The organization did their homework and we decided to draft him. From there on, it’s up to him. He did everything possible to make the team, and I know he’s not going to stop,” Cora said. “You can be a Rule 5 or a 10-year vet, but the way he threw the ball … he’s getting better and better.”

RYAN BRASIER threw another live batting practice session Thursday. There’s a good chance he will begin the regular season on the injured list after dealing with a right pinkie fracture this past offseason. He also is behind after leaving camp for a personal reason in February.

“He threw a live BP yesterday, so that was good,” Cora said. “We’re waiting for him to come back and give us an update on how he feels and where he’s at physically. He feels like, toward the end of bullpens and live BPs, leg-wise, he’s not where he’s supposed to be. That’s obvious. That’s part of that. As far as the arm, he looked good yesterday. No soreness. He’s still obviously getting treatment for his hand and all that. Hopefully, he can keep building up and be with us sooner rather than later.”

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