JUPITER, Fla. -- The Red Sox have yet to make a decision on who their fifth starter will be to start the season.
But Johh Farrell strongly hinted today that the battle is down to lefty Roenis Elias and knuckleballer Steven Wright, with Henry Owens all but eliminated from the competition.
The spot has been made available by a right knee injury to Eduardo Rodriguez, who will not be ready to open the season.
"To date, I like the way that Wright and Elias have thrown the ball,'' said Farrell. "Henry's a quality pitcher and yet we need to see the consistent command, as we've talked about. And he's not the only one, but we need to see improved command more regularly.''
Owens has walked nine in 10 1/3 innings of Grapefruit League play this spring.
Wright is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Miami Marlins, with Owens set to follow him to the mound. Elias's next outing will come either Thursday or Friday.
Owens might have been considered the favorite to win the spot a few weeks ago, but his poor command has significantly hurt his chances.
Wright is out of options and is virtually guaranteed to make the staff, either as the long man in the bullpen or the starter. Elias, too, has experience both starting and relieving and could give the Sox another lefty in the bullpen -- or a second lefty in the starting rotation to go along with ace David Price.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez has a 30-pitch bullpen Monday morning in Fort Myers, with another bullpen session set for Wednesday.
That could be enough to clear Rodriguez to throw live batting practice later in the week.
"Today was another step forward for Eddie,'' said Farrell. 'I wish I could tell you when that first game will be but we're working off him, to see how he responds to each outing.