FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The magnitude of Dustin Pedroia’s most recent setback with his problematic left knee is apparent when you consider the following: For the first time in Pedroia’s career, he won’t report to Spring Training with his fellow position players by the time the Red Sox hold their first full-squad workout on Monday.
Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke confirmed as much after speaking with the second baseman by phone.
“He’s still sore,” Roenicke said. “The knee is still sore. So the setback is still there. He won’t be here Monday, and he’s just going to try to evaluate what happens here. He’s going to continue to talk to the people in Arizona and [trainer] Brad [Pearson] here to figure out what the next step is and where he goes from it.”
Pedroia has played just nine games over the last two seasons.
When Pedroia held a press conference last May, he sounded almost resigned to the fact his career could be over.
But he got some newfound hope following a joint preservation surgery from last summer that left him feeling better after a few months.
By November, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom relayed to reporters that Pedroia felt he might be able to play in 2020.
However, hopes were diminished in late January when Pedroia reported to the team that he had another significant setback, from which he still hasn’t recovered.
“I talked to Dustin, I would say, a week and a half ago, and it was tough,” said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. “You never want to hear that when someone has a setback, especially a player of his caliber, and what he means to not only this team but this organization. He’s special. Hopefully we get to see him soon.”
Pedroia has two seasons and $25 million remaining on his contract.
At this point, it would be surprising if Pedroia is able to make a comeback. But nobody has counted him out yet.
“The mind can only take it so far,” said Bradley. “Obviously you want to have a strong mind, and sometimes the body fails and that’s OK. That’s part of living, and I think he’s going to move forward and see what’s next.”
JBJ: They’ll find out soon enough
At the team’s Winter Weekend in January, J.D. Martinez became the first Red Sox player to express confidence that the team will be cleared of any wrongdoing once MLB is finished with its investigation into whether the club illegally stole signs via technology in 2018.
Bradley and Andrew Benintendi weighed in with similar thoughts on Thursday.
“They’ll find out soon enough,” said Bradley. “It’s one of those things -- you just wait and don’t pass judgment until you know the truth. Let them investigate. Like I said, so many people are so quick to pass the blame and this and that. Until you know all the truths, I would advise you to wait and then go from there.”
“I think all of us are confident in what’s going to come out, and all we can do, like I said, is focus on baseball,” said Benintendi. “There’s a lot of distractions obviously and I think we’re all just ready to focus on this year.”
Eovaldi’s bullpen session ‘eye opening’
After trading David Price, the Red Sox definitely need a strong season from Nathan Eovaldi. The righty was a disappointment last season in terms of both health and performance.
Roenicke, who watched Eovaldi’s bullpen session on Thursday, is already sensing that the flame-throwing righty is poised to bounce back in 2020
“He’s always eye-opening when you watch him throw a bullpen,” said Roenicke. “It just doesn’t matter, you look at the velocity with that thing and it’s incredible. Then he’s got his cutter and he’s working on this thing, and he’s got the curveball and he’s got all these weapons. And we see it during the season when those weapons are put in places where they’re close enough to where he wants them, they do not get hit.
“When he’s bad, it’s when he’s got 0-2, 1-2 and he leaves that split-finger up or he leaves a breaking ball up and he gets hit hard, so it’s really all about command with him. When he’s commanding the baseball, you have this fantastic pitcher.”
Eovaldi had surgery in April to repair loose bodies in his right elbow, and the club thinks that was the cause of his lack of command.
The Red Sox will know more on ace Chris Sale’s timetable to report to camp when he visits with the team’s medical staff on Friday. The visit will take place after hours in order for the doctors to determine whether he is still contagious after battling with the flu and a mild case of pneumonia the last couple of weeks.
“They’ll evaluate him and he’s hoping they tell him, ‘Why don’t you stay here?’ But we’ll see what the doctors say,” Roenicke said.
Sale has kept his arm in shape by throwing off flat ground in his hometown of Naples, which is about 25 miles south on I-75 from where the Red Sox train.
Arbitrator sides with Sox
The Panel ruled in favor of the Red Sox in Wednesday’s arbitration hearing with lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, the club announced Thursday.
The sides weren’t that far apart to begin with, but the Panel went with the team’s offer of $8.3 million. Coming off a 19-win season in 2019, Rodriguez and his representation were asking for $8.975 million.
The hearing was on Wednesday in Arizona, but Rodriguez was already back in camp by Thursday throwing a side session.
“I think he was a little bit rushed in what he was doing, but he’s all about command,” said Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke. “This guy has as good command as anybody in the game. That’s why he’s so fast, you see 0-2, 1-2 on hitters. And that’s why he’s able to have the kind of year that he had. It was pretty good today. He’s going to continue to get locked in on command. But he’s obviously a huge part of our rotation. And I don’t know if it’s fair to say we need the same year from him, but he’s certainly capable of having that same year.”
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.