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Pedroia expected to return next week

Red Sox second baseman 'hitting all his check points'

BOSTON -- Look for Dustin Pedroia to make his return to the Red Sox's lineup at some point next week. The second baseman continues to make progress from the right hamstring injury that has put him on the disabled list twice and limited him to six games since June 24.

"Dustin is hitting all his check points aggressively," said interim manager Torey Lovullo. "It's getting close for him and we're all in it with him. We're all excited by what we're seeing and what we're hearing. He's putting on spikes. He's aggressively running the bases. He's continuing to run flat to build up some endurance in the outfield, pole to pole. He walks in after his work day and is really, really excited. That's nice to see."

Triple-A Pawtucket plays its final game of the season at home Monday, but Lovullo didn't seem to think Pedroia would be ready in time to get that Minor League tuneup.

"Yeah, we bounced that around," Lovullo said. "We thought maybe we could do that. Given where he's at, and the timing of the Minor League season, we don't want to force that. We want to do what we feel is best for Dustin. If he needs a little more time, he's going to get his first at-bat here at the big league level. If that's what's best for Dustin, we'll wait it out."

Lovullo had been saying Pedroia should be able to play in games around Thursday, which is an off-day for the Red Sox.

The homestand wraps up Wednesday, with a three-city road trip beginning in St. Petersburg against the Rays next Friday.

"It's going to be very close to that date," said Lovullo. "Maybe a day or two before, or a day or two after. We're not exactly quite sure on when that return date will fall, because he still has some more baseball activity to do, and he's got to ramp it up to try and move him to as close as we possibly can to a game situation. We'll get that feedback after that last day or two and see where he's at."

Worth noting

• Third baseman Pablo Sandoval was scratched from the lineup after suffering some mid-back tightness during batting practice. Lovullo said the club was being precautionary by taking him out. Travis Shaw made the start at third base. Allen Craig got the start at first base, marking the first time he has been in the lineup since returning from the Minor Leagues on Tuesday.

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia