Red Sox lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez said he feels “100 percent” after battling COVID-19-related myocarditis, and he intends to have a regular offseason and hopes to pitch 200-plus innings this year.
“I feel fine,” he told The Boston Globe‘s Alex Speier. “I feel great.”
Rodriguez, 28, tested positive for the coronavirus just before he was slated to come to Boston for summer training camp in July. He stayed at home initially, then multiple negative tests allowed him to join the Red Sox, but he immediately felt fatigued and off when he started throwing at Fenway Park.
A battery of tests, Speier noted, revealed the myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle that in worst-case scenarios can cause death. He was shut down for the season and sent home, where was unable to exercise at all and could only sit on his couch and walk around his house for almost three months.
He couldn’t even play with his 7-year-old daughter or 3-year-old son or take his dog for a walk, Speier said, and the monotony proved difficult.
“That time of year, I’ve never been sitting around,” Rodriguez told Speier. “It’s hard, man. Just being at home, relax, chilling all the time, all day long, that’s kind of hard for me.”
you know when you love doing something so much when you turn on the tv in the morning and the first channel that appears is @MLBNetwork #quickpitch and you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach 🤷🏻♂️🤷🏻♂️🤷🏻♂️ man I really miss playing so bad 🤦🏻♂️🤦🏻♂️ 😢😢
— Eduardo Rodriguez (@eduardorod5) August 25, 2020
Rodriguez is the only known major leaguer to miss the entire season due to a COVID-19 infection or related illness and also the only one known to develop myocarditis. He said he thanks God that he was the only one.
Considering how many deaths COVID-19 has caused, Rodriguez feels fortunate that his situation didn’t escalate. He said it allowed him to gain some perspective.
“I’m happy that I just had myocarditis and am not six feet underground,” Rodriguez said.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) November 19, 2020
While he was out, he watched every Red Sox game and frequently called Xander Bogaerts, Martin Perez, Nate Eovaldi, and others to analyze the action and chitchat.
He said that baseball is now “more than just a game.” It’s about interacting with teammates and appreciating everything in the moment.
“It’s living your life, living with your teammates,” Rodriguez said. “It was like leaving your family. Half my heart was away from me. It was just weird, man. I would say it was weird because it’s something I’ve never been through before in my life.”
When doctors cleared him for a gradual buildup of physical activity, he didn’t hesitate to get back into shape. He started walking, then riding the exercise bike, and eventually throwing lightly – which he called one of the best feelings he’s ever had.
The plan now, according to Speier, is for Rodriguez to throw four times a week and ultimately go through a standard offseason. While the Red Sox has acknowledged that it’s unclear on their end how many innings he’ll be able to pitch this coming season, Rodriguez is confident he’ll be fine.
In addition to throwing 200-plus innings, he hopes to start 34 games and come as close to replicating the 19-win season he had in 2019 as possible. Rodriguez said he’s eager to reunite with manager Alex Cora, and he has no desire to leave Boston at any point.
“I want to play in Boston forever,” Rodriguez said. “That’s where I got to the big leagues. That’s where I got an opportunity. That’s my family. That’s a ballpark where I really love to pitch – the history, everything.”
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