MLB: Exhibition-Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox

MLB: Exhibition-Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox

Red Sox starter Zach Godley delivers a pitch during the first inning of Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Blue Jays. Later, rain forced cancellation. With no fans allowed in the stands, Boston will host Baltimore in tonight’s opener of a 60-game season.

BOSTON — Dylan Covey, Phillips Valdez, three catchers and a Rule 5 Draft selection made the headlines as the Red Sox released their 30-man roster for Opening Day.

Boston elected to retain 15 pitchers and 15 position players entering its Friday night matchup with the Orioles. Covey and catcher Jonathan Lucroy were officially added to the 40-man roster, filling the final two slots.

Covey and Valdez are both right-handed pitchers who were acquired this offseason. Covey came from the Rays earlier this week for nominal compensation thanks to an assignment clause in his contract. Valdez was waived by the Mariners and Rangers in less than four months before signing with the Red Sox in February.

“The pitching staff was probably the toughest,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said. “The position players, I think, were a little easier.”

Lucroy, who played for Roenicke with the Brewers from 2011-15, joins Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki behind the plate. Vazquez is the certain top choice while Plawecki was signed on a one-year deal after spending last year with Cleveland. Lucroy could also make an appearance at first base after recovering from offseason neck surgery.

“It’s always good,” Roenicke said. “We’ve got history, and not just as a good player — a very quality guy. Cares not just about what he does. He cares a lot about the team.”

Jonathan Arauz will be the youngest player in uniform for the Red Sox on Friday. The 21-year-old was left exposed by the Astros in the offseason and picked by Boston as a long-term prospect. Arauz is a switch-hitting infielder who must remain with the Red Sox throughout the season in order to be optioned to their minor league affiliates for further development in 2021.

“Arauz, being a Rule 5 — do you carry him?” Roenicke said. “He has shown progress from the first spring training and is a real good player.”

Colten Brewer, Matt Hall and Jeffrey Springs earned a chance to crack the back end of the rotation as either No. 5 starters or bulk pitchers behind an opener.

Roenicke said Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez and Ryan Weber are currently locked into the top three spots. Boston is likely to use an opener at No. 4 and potentially attempt to develop a more traditional fifth starter.

“We made need him the third game,” Roenicke said. “We may need him the fourth game. We really don’t know on that. But yes, that’s kind of what we have planned.”

Brian Johnson and Zack Godley were among the veterans sent to the club’s alternate site at McCoy Stadium. Johnson entered Summer Camp among those in contention to earn a rotation spot, but he was outrighted off the 40-man roster soon after chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was hired and will not return as of now. Godley was signed after being released by the Tigers and has experience with bench coach Jerry Narron during their previous time together with the Diamondbacks.

“It gives us the opportunity to have two or three starters in our taxi squad that we feel comfortable enough about if something does go wrong,” Roenicke said. “We can bring these guys back and they will be stretched out. It’s important.”

Eovaldi will serve as the ace with Eduardo Rodriguez still attempting to return from a bout with COVID-19. Rodriguez will be shut down from all baseball activities for at least the next week after experiencing a setback in his recovery. Rodriguez has not tested positive again but has been advised by the club’s medical staff to halt his progression after throwing a pair of bullpen sessions.

“It’s nothing to mess around with, as we’ve seen,” Roenicke said. “Our concern for our players is more important than anything we do. We want to win as many ballgames as we can, but the health of our players comes first.”

Rodriguez and fellow left-handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor will all begin the season on the injured list while recovering from COVID-19. Chris Sale (left elbow) and Dustin Pedroia (left knee) have also been placed on the 60-day injured list. Both Sale and Pedroia are expected to miss the entire 2020 season.