Pedroia rejoins teammates, mulls his future

August 28th, 2019

DENVER -- In the same venue that experienced one of the most glorious moments of his career 12 years ago -- a World Series championship at the end of his rookie season -- the second baseman was back at Coors Field on Tuesday under less ideal circumstances.

Eight days after his 36th birthday, Pedroia had a big brace on the left knee that has been giving him so much trouble the past two years. He needed crutches to walk. And the remainder of his baseball career remains somewhere between limbo and doubt.

But three weeks after his most recent surgery -- a joint preservation procedure -- Pedroia was in typically good spirits as he was able to spend time with his teammates for the first time in three months.

This was not the case a couple of months ago. Pedroia left the Red Sox at the beginning of June to go home to his family and evaluate whether his knee would ever allow him to play baseball again.

"When I got back home, I was hurting pretty good," Pedroia said. "I think once I stopped playing … mentally you try to relax, and it was getting worse and worse."

Not long after that, Pedroia didn't like the way his knee was answering that question after he performed the lightest of physical activities -- one that is supposed to be among the most enjoyable for a father.

"It was tough, man, I mean, there were a couple of times I threw batting practice to my kids and the next three days, I was not moving," said Pedroia. "When you can't do things like that, it stinks. We had to do something. This was the next step. Obviously going forward throughout my life, I'm going to have more surgeries on this knee. As of right now, hopefully this can bide me time for whatever it is that leads ahead."

In other words, the surgery Pedroia had in Vail, Colo., was every bit as much to improve his quality of life as to keep alive whatever hopes he has of playing baseball again.

"I'm doing good," said Pedroia. "I have two more weeks on crutches. The surgery went real good and I'm just kind of recovering right now."

Pedroia, who has become a bigger medical expert at this stage of his career than he'd like, went into detail about what the procedure entailed.

"When they got in there, I had some really big bone spurs that they had to take out," Pedroia said. "A lot of scar tissue. And then I had to do a scar revision and then a BioPlasty where they were drilling into the bones to try to strengthen them and things like that. They inject PRP and like a bone matrix kind of thing. It doesn't harden. That's why I'm non-weight bearing for five weeks and I have to be off it so it can heal."

Once Pedroia heals, he thinks he will start to get the answer to the question Red Sox fans have been wondering: Will he play baseball again?

"I met with the doctor yesterday," Pedroia said. "He said after the surgery I'm going to feel a lot better, and I haven't had a chance the last few years to strengthen the areas that needed to be strengthened. So he said, 'Do that and you'll know.' That's basically where we're at."

What will the next few weeks entail?

"I have to have a certain amount of time to heal, get the range of motion back and then I'll have like a 12-week period where I'll have to strengthen my quad and the inside part of my leg, my calf, because it's been through a lot the last few years," Pedroia said. "He said, 'Once you get all the strength back, your knee will tell you if you can play baseball or if that's it.'"

This time around, Pedroia is being as methodical as possible before deciding if playing baseball again is even possible. Pedroia is under contract with the Red Sox through 2021.

"That would be great," Pedroia said of a possible comeback. "This time, I'm taking it by steps, man. It would be nice to not hurt first and then be able to do normal life stuff. And then if that's the case, we'll jump to the main goal. So one step at a time and hopefully it works out."

As the retirement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck reminded people a few days ago, the rehab an athlete can go through to come back from injuries can be thankless.

"That's a different sport, man," Pedroia said. "Every case is different, but going through rehab processes is tough. You get opinions, you hear everything, so you've just got to try to put your head down and do it. It definitely wears you out."

Having Pedroia back around was a nice jolt of energy for the Red Sox at the time of the season they need it.

"It was cool," said David Price. "We hung out at breakfast this morning. Just, he's going to make you laugh. It's good to have him back and have him around. Everyone in here has missed him greatly."

Though Pedroia played just nine games for the Red Sox over the last two seasons, he remains a universally-respected figure in the clubhouse.

"He's left everything he has out there on the baseball field for the Boston Red Sox," said Price. "To see him [not be able to play] right now, it's tough. But he tells us he's on the right path to getting better, so I hope he does. Whether or not he plays baseball again, he's held in a very high regard with everybody in this clubhouse and I believe everybody around baseball as well."