Rodriguez's knee shows improvement

Left-hander throws off flat ground after 72-hour shutdown

Rodriguez's knee shows improvement

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Eduardo Rodriguez's right knee improved to the point where the lefty threw off flat ground on Wednesday, and the Red Sox remain hopeful that he will start the season on time.

"Eduardo's improving," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "There's still a little bit of swelling in the knee, but he's improving to the point where we'll put a ball in his hand today and he'll begin a throwing program on flat ground that will be shortened distance. But we feel like he's made enough progress to keep his arm moving and keep his arm in shape as best we can given the status of where he's at."

Rodriguez didn't sound concerned when he spoke to the media Wednesday.

"It's early, so I know I'm going to be ready after I fix my knee," Rodriguez said after playing catch out to 90 feet. "I just wanted to take this [swelling] out and get ready for the season."

During Saturday's workout, Rodriguez suffered a patella subluxation (partial dislocation) when he caught a spike trying to catch a popup. Initially, it was a scare as Rodriguez was on the ground for a few minutes. The Red Sox shut him down for 72 hours before allowing him to throw again.

"You know, the fact that he's improving and the swelling is diminishing is obviously a 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."

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The club will continue to evaluate Rodriguez's symptoms before deciding when he will see his first Grapefruit League action.

"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, there's no timeframe for that first bullpen [session] to happen, but we're still hopeful that he'll be ready for the start of the year."

Worth noting

• The Red Sox reached agreement with 25 players on one-year contracts on Wednesday, including 2015 All-Star Brock Holt and cornerstone youngsters Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Blake Swihart and Rodriguez.

The others who agreed to terms are as follows: Pitchers Matt Barnes, Roenis Elias, Edwin Escobar, Heath Hembree, Williams Jerez, Brian Johnson, Tommy Layne, Pat Light, Henry Owens, Noe Ramirez, Carson Smith, Brandon Workman and Steven Wright; catcher Christian Vazquez; infielders Sean Coyle, Marco Hernandez, Deven Marrero and Travis Shaw; and outfielder Bryce Brentz. With these agreements, all players on the Red Sox's Major League roster are under contract for the 2016 season.

• Farrell has seen encouraging signs in Carlos Marmol's attempted comeback. The hard-throwing righty reliever and former All-Star didn't pitch in the Majors last season, but he has tried to make mechanical adjustments to get him back to the pitcher he used to be.

"Two days ago was a pretty sizeable step forward in getting back to the delivery he had when he was with the Cubs," said Farrell. "He's gotten to more of a posture change in his setup to what we're trying to get him to complete his delivery. The action to his stuff is showing signs of what it was when he was with the Cubs three or four years ago, and that is a greater sink, more sweep to his slider, so he's encouraged by it. We're not there yet, but I think he and [pitching coach] Carl [Willis] had a kind of breakthrough moment a couple days ago."

• Outfielder Rusney Castillo, who was slowed last week with the flu, will play in his first game on Thursday at the Twins. David Ortiz is expected to debut on Friday at home against the Rays. David Murphy, who signed a Minor League deal with the Red Sox on Monday, will play a simulated game Saturday and play in a game on Sunday.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.