BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia still has inflammation in his left knee, so his improvement has been slow, manager Alex Cora said Sunday.Pedroia, who went back on the disabled list on May 30, took some swings earlier in the week and has been taking ground balls and playing catch. While he
BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia still has inflammation in his left knee, so his improvement has been slow, manager Alex Cora said Sunday.
Pedroia, who went back on the disabled list on May 30, took some swings earlier in the week and has been taking ground balls and playing catch. While he has been able to do most of his exercise in the weight room, his movement in other areas, like running, has been limited. Cora said Pedroia will take the day off to see how he feels with rest.
"He'll travel with us, but it's been a slow process as far as that," he said. "He's feeling better, not as much pain as a week ago, but still."
Meanwhile, Mookie Betts (left abdominal strain) also took some swings before Sunday's game against the White Sox, and he was expected to do more hitting work during the game, Cora said.
"He's actually probably gonna hit up the machine during the game, and let's see how he reacts to it," Cora said. "But it seems like, if everything goes well, the way he swung today, he's moving well. There were some pitches that he got to that probably a week ago, no way he gets to it. He feels good about himself, so after the game, we'll probably know even more, what's the next step."
Cora doesn't have a day in mind for when Betts would return. He said he will wait until after the game to see how Betts reacts to batting. But so far, Betts' progress pregame gives reason to be optimistic.
"It was good today," Cora said. "He was driving the ball. He still has stuff to do."
Red Sox offense remains productive, even without Betts
Even with Betts out of the lineup, the Red Sox have remained an offensive powerhouse. It helps that Andrew Benintendi, who replaced Betts as the leadoff hitter, has hit .333 with four doubles, one triple, five home runs and 11 RBIs since Betts was injured on May 27.
"Andrew's swinging the bat Mookie-like," Cora said. "The production from the leadoff spot has been the same."
He's hit particularly strong against left-handed pitchers -- a change that Cora attributes to an increased aggressiveness at the plate.
"I do feel that sometimes one swing can change your approach or change your thoughts," Cora said. "He's seen teams shift on him a little bit more lately. So he'll take his singles, and then obviously they're going to change the way they pitch, I think, and they're going to go where he wants them to go so he can drive the ball out of the ballpark. ... He's been able to recognize pitches and stay on them."
Sure, a strong leadoff hitter has helped, but it's not just Benintendi. Cora said he feels the improved production in the bottom third of the lineup in recent weeks is what has allowed his team to continue exceling on offense, even without Betts.
"Mitch Moreland has hit a few home runs," Cora said. "I feel the difference is Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr., what they're doing in the bottom third of the lineup. … I think the difference is that, that the bottom third of the lineup is doing a better job compared to earlier in the season."
And if their hitting success is sustained, what will the team look like when Betts comes back?
"If we feel we're good offensively now, then it's going to be fun to see them all together, see what they can do," Cora said.
Blake Richardson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.