Eduardo Rodriguez felt the effects of COVID-19 firsthand, missing the entirety of the 2020 season after being diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart linked to the coronavirus.
An offseason later, Rodriguez is ready to take his spot at the top of the Boston Red Sox rotation, feeling the way he normally does heading into a typical spring training, even during the most atypical of times.
"At the beginning of COVID, I just wanted a chance to get past through that," Rodriguez said Friday. "Thank God I have a chance to survive that part and be available to get back to baseball and get cleared. ... I did everything that I can to get back to 100%, and now I'm here. I'm ready to go."
The 27-year-old was slotted to be the team's Opening Day starter in 2020 before the heart condition forced him to the sideline after he posted a career-best season in 2019, with a 3.81 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 213 strikeouts, 6.0 WAR and a 19-6 record in 34 starts.
Rodriguez said he felt significant fatigue in 2020, unable to throw many pitches without feeling the effects of the myocarditis. After spending three months resting up combined with a full offseason of conditioning training, Rodriguez said he's grateful to push through his health issues.
"When they told me that I had to get out of the season and I didn't get a chance to pitch, that was the day I was thinking like, what happened? What is this?" Rodriguez said. "Thank God I had my family, my wife and my kids. They were there with me all of the time. They were pushing me. That was the only thing I need to pass through all of that."
Although he has gotten past his stint with COVID and its aftereffects, Rodriguez pleaded for the public to continue to follow public health guidelines regarding the pandemic.
"Just wear your masks, wash your hands, be careful," Rodriguez said. "Keep your distance with other people. This is not a thing that we can play around with. I was feeling really bad back in those days. Really, really bad. This is not something that we can play around with."