FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In a perfect world, the Boston Red Sox would be sending Eduardo Rodriguez to a mound this week to make his first start of spring training. All things considered, though, they're pleased with the alternative.
After being shut down for a 72-hour period with a subluxation of the patellar tendon in his right knee, Rodriguez resumed a light throwing program Wednesday on the back fields behind JetBlue Park. The 22-year-old lefty made 30 throws from a distance of 45 feet off flat ground, according to manager John Farrell.
"I was happy to go out today after four days that happened," Rodriguez said. "To go and throw the ball was good. What happened, I feel like I was lucky. I just want to take this out and get ready for the season. That's what I want."
Although Farrell described Rodriguez as "improved," he also said there was "no time frame for that first bullpen to happen," to say nothing of his first spring start. But the Red Sox remain confident that Rodriguez will be ready to start the season on time.
"Oh, we think he'll be ready to start the year, but I have to temper that with, he'll be out there when he's out of danger," Farrell said. "We don't want to rush it to the point where you're looking at his landing leg. That's got to be at full strength, the weight, the momentum coming down the mound. But we're still hopeful that he'll be ready for the start of the year."
After posting a 3.85 ERA in 21 starts last season and becoming the first Red Sox rookie lefty to win at least 10 games since John Curtis in 1972, Rodriguez is expected to be a regular member of the rotation, with lefties Roenis Elias, Henry Owens and Brian Johnson serving as depth options.
"The fact that he's improving and the swelling is diminishing is an obvious positive sign," Farrell said. "We really didn't set our sights on any one thing specifically in that 72-hour mark, but the fact that we can put a ball in his hand, that's a positive. We were a little bit open-ended as to what those first three days were going to give us."