Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Pedroia makes presence felt in 2018 debut

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia was back for the start of his 13th season with the Red Sox on Saturday, and the Fenway faithful gave him a warm welcome with a loud, standing ovation in his first at-bat.

While Pedroia went 0-for-4 with a walk in the Red Sox's 8-6 win, he scored a run during a three-run rally in the third by diving head-first into home on a single up the middle by Christian Vazquez.

View Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia was back for the start of his 13th season with the Red Sox on Saturday, and the Fenway faithful gave him a warm welcome with a loud, standing ovation in his first at-bat.

While Pedroia went 0-for-4 with a walk in the Red Sox's 8-6 win, he scored a run during a three-run rally in the third by diving head-first into home on a single up the middle by Christian Vazquez.

View Full Game Coverage

"Great baserunning," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He looked 'fast.' You can ask him. The way he moved, that was good to see. He put [together] good at-bats. He got the walk. The at-bat against [Peter] Moylan. [Ronald] Acuna, made a nice play. It was nice to have him back. The energy he brings, it's off the roof, it's cool to have him around."

"That was awesome," Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi said of the ovation Pedroia received. "Big part of our team, obviously, and a leader in here and having him back and just his presence here, it's huge."

A table-setter for most of his career, Pedroia played his first game of 2018 as the No. 6 hitter.

After soaking in the applause from the fans who recognized his long road back from major offseason surgery on his left knee, Pedroia came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, but flied out to shallow right.

Video: ATL@BOS: Pedroia gets standing ovation in his 1st AB

"It's been a long time, so it was just fun to be out there -- and I'll never forget that first at-bat," said Pedroia. "That was pretty cool. "Two outs, bases loaded in the first, it was great. Obviously, I swung a little bit too hard, but it was great to be back -- great win for us, and it was exciting. It's been a lot of tough days, so today it was pretty great to be out there and play."

After missing the first 51 games of the season due to his recovery from left knee surgery, Pedroia wasn't about to be picky about his spot in the lineup.

"I'm very excited," Pedroia said. "It's been a long time. It's going to be fun getting out there and playing. We've played great. I think we've got the best record in baseball. Obviously, it's a long year -- so we've got to keep going and playing great."

Pedroia entered Saturday with 20 plate appearances in the No. 6 spot during his career, compared to 4,115 in the No. 2 spot, 1,290 in the third spot and 944 at leadoff.

Hanley Ramirez had been batting third before getting designated for assignment on Friday, and J.D. Martinez has slotted in there the last couple of days.

For now, Cora likes Pedroia in the sixth spot. Mookie Betts and Benintendi are slotted in at Nos. 1-2 for the remainder of the season, as far as Cora is concerned. There could be some movement in the No. 3 hole, depending on matchups.

"I wanted to have Mitch [Moreland] in between [Martinez and Xander Bogaerts] and, like I said, I don't want to break up the top two," Cora said. "I'm very comfortable with them, the way they're getting on base, obviously, the way Mookie's driving the ball. So, I think that's a good spot for him to have traffic in front of him, put in a quality at-bat, put the ball in play, and drive in some runs."

Pedroia was activated on Friday, but got the night off with Saturday's day game looming.

After watching his team get off to a tremendous start without him, Pedroia is excited to now join in the fun. Saturday's win helped the Red Sox improve their MLB-best record to 36-16.

"We've got a great team," Pedroia said. "Just a matter of keeping it going. Obviously, it's a long year, there's a lot of ups and downs. But we have the talent to do anything."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia