Eduardo Rodriguez began throwing in the fall and said he is 100 percent as spring training gets underway. The Red Sox starter missed the shortened 2020. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

When Eduardo Rodríguez last pitched for Boston, he was chasing after the milestone of a 20-win season.

He fell short.

And then things really went wrong.

Instead of returning from the pandemic shutdown in July with the rest of baseball, Rodríguez was stuck in bed, sick with the coronavirus. When he recovered from that illness, doctors diagnosed him with myocarditis — a complication of COVID-19 that affects the heart and wound up costing him the entire 2020 season.

“After everything I went through, to be here with the guys, I’m really excited,” the 27-year-old left-hander said in a Zoom call with reporters on Friday from the Red Sox spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida.

“I just thank God I had the chance to survive that and get back to baseball,” he said. “I’m really blessed to have a chance to get back here. You see a lot of people, the troubles that they have, people dying and all that. So having the chance to be back here is something I really feel happy about.”

Rodríguez went 13-5 for the Boston team that won a franchise-record 108 games and the World Series in 2018. He came into the next year overshadowed in the Red Sox rotation by Chris Sale, David Price and even Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi.

But Rodríguez outpitched them all, going 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA to finish sixth in the AL Cy Young voting. He made his major league-leading 34th start on the final day of the season with a chance at 20 wins, but did not figure in the decision. Still, his wins, ERA, starts, 203 1/3 innings and 213 strikeouts were all career highs.

Rodríguez was lined up to start on opening day in 2020 before testing positive for the coronavirus and being diagnosed with inflammation in his heart muscles. He said he couldn’t even complete a 25-pitch workout without feeling tired; on Aug. 1, just one week into the season, he was shut down for the year.

“As a baseball player, you’re always doing something,” he said. “To just be out there, turning on the TV every night and watch everybody playing and I wasn’t part of that, it was hard for me.”

After reporting to camp this year, he said, he is ready to have “a regular spring training.”

“I don’t get fatigued any more,” Rodríguez said. “I feel the way I normally feel when I get to spring training. So I think everything’s going to be fine.”

Manager Alex Cora is counting on another workhorse season from Rodríguez, with Price and Porcello gone and Sale recovering from Tommy John surgery. But the manager said the most important thing was seeing Rodríguez arrive in camp healthy.

“Forget baseball,” Cora said. “It was a tough year for him, health-wise. For him to be able work out and go through his progression and be in the situation he is — amazing.”

Cora said Rodríguez has been cleared for full activities since October. He pitched a bullpen session on Wednesday and had no problems; the team will continue to monitor him.

“We have to pay attention. That doesn’t mean we’re going to slow him down,” Cora said. “The way he reacts is going to determine how much we give him.”

Rodríguez was asked if he had advice for those who weren’t taking the pandemic seriously.

“Just wear your mask, wash your hands,” he said. “It’s not a thing that we can play around with.”


WINDERMERE, Fla. — Former All-Star baseball player Johnny Damon was arrested Friday in central Florida on a charge of resisting an officer after he was pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, according to court and jail records.

Johnny Damon, right, and his wife, Michelle Mangan, attend the ESPY Awards on July 10, 2019. Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Damon, 47, was booked into the Orange County Jail early Friday after an incident in Windermere, Florida, a wealthy suburb of Orlando popular with professional athletes. He is charged with resisting an officer without violence, a first-degree misdemeanor.

An online court docket did not show an attorney listed for Damon who could comment. Jail records show that Damon’s wife, Michelle Mangan-Damon, also was arrested. She is facing charges of battery on an officer and resisting with violence.

A police officer pulled over Damon’s SUV after it swerved, hit a curb and drove past a stop sign, according to the Orlando Sentinel, citing a police report.

Authorities said Damon slurred his words and he seemed unsteady on his feet. When asked how much he had had to drink, Damon said, “Just a little bit,” according to the police report.

Damon’s wife got out of the car even though she had been instructed to stay inside while they waited for another officer to show up, and she ignored the officer’s orders, according to the report.

The officer grabbed Mangan-Damon’s wrist and tried to push her against the car. Damon got between them and the officer and former ballplayer scuffled as the officer tried to put Damon and his wife in handcuffs, according to the report.

The second officer arrived and the couple were handcuffed and separated.

When asked to perform a sobriety test, Damon said he would because he is “a big boy.” During the first test, which required him to follow a red LED light with his eyes without moving his head, Damon kept turning his head despite repeated instruction not to, the police report said.

During a walking test, Damon took three steps, stumbled and apologized. He then held out his arms for balance and took an additional eight steps, the report said.

Damon agreed to take a breath test at a DUI testing center where his blood-alcohol level measured between .300 and .294, more than three times the state’s legal limit for driving, according to the report.

Besides the misdemeanor charge, Damon was cited for running a stop sign and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Damon, who grew up in Orlando, was a two-time All-Star outfielder who played for seven Major League Baseball teams from 1995 to 2012. He was a key member of the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox team that broke the franchise’s 86-year title drought. He later signed with Boston’s hated rivals, the New York Yankees, and helped the Yankees win the 2009 World Series.

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