Red Sox looking at May return for E-Rod

Red Sox looking at May return for E-Rod

BRADENTON, Fla. -- As much as the Red Sox want to get Eduardo Rodriguez back in the rotation, the club will continue on a conservative schedule to make sure the lefty is fully healthy and stretched out once he returns.

Rodriguez suffered a patella subluxation of his right knee on Feb. 27.

The lefty will throw another bullpen session on Thursday, and face live hitters for the first time since suffering the injury on Saturday. Manager John Farrell said Rodriguez could throw as many as three live BPs before starting a Minor League rehab assignment.

Under that schedule, which would include getting E-Rod stretched out to 90 or so pitches, there's no chance he will pitch for the Red Sox in April.

At this point, early to mid-May seems to be the best educated guess for when Rodriguez rejoins Boston's rotation.

"He's a starter. ... You can't skip any steps here," said Farrell. "Days of recovery and rest are required."

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