"When I went out there with (catcher Christian Vazquez), we were by the bullpen warming up, and I told him, 'Bro, I feel chills. I feel all that right now. Like I'm making my MLB debut right now,'" Rodriguez said, according to Ian Browne of MLB.com. "And he told me, 'No, don’t worry. That’s part of it.' I feel that every start, but today was a little bit more exciting."
Rodriguez, 27, was poised to anchor Boston's rotation last season with ace Chris Sale on the shelf but was sidelined by a heart condition called myocarditis after recovering from COVID-19.
In his first start this spring, he allowed one run on two hits while striking out a pair over 2 2/3 innings of work. However, the pitching line wasn't the most important thing for Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
"Honestly, the results don't really matter today. I'm just happy he's going to be on the mound," Cora said. "Just to see him out there is refreshing for everybody. We all know what happened last year. For him to be on the mound is a step toward the right direction."
The southpaw added that he has no concerns for his availability in the wake of his heart condition and will be ready to take the mound any time Cora hands him the ball in the 2021 season.
Rodriguez went 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 213 strikeouts over 203 1/3 innings in 2019.