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Pedroia, at Triple-A, inching toward return

Final step is to play back-to-back games at second
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- A night after he saw 22 pitches in four plate appearances as the DH for Triple-A Pawtucket in Rochester, N.Y., Dustin Pedroia started at second base on Saturday and was expected to play seven innings.

At this juncture, every step Pedroia takes is pivotal in setting up the timetable for his imminent return to the Red Sox.

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BOSTON -- A night after he saw 22 pitches in four plate appearances as the DH for Triple-A Pawtucket in Rochester, N.Y., Dustin Pedroia started at second base on Saturday and was expected to play seven innings.

At this juncture, every step Pedroia takes is pivotal in setting up the timetable for his imminent return to the Red Sox.

View Full Game Coverage

The veteran, who is coming back from major surgery on his left knee, will get a down day on Sunday.

Pedroia will resume what should be the final portion of his rehab when Pawtucket plays a home series Monday through Thursday against Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

As long as Pedroia is able to play back-to-back games at second base during that time, he should be poised to be activated by the Red Sox at or near the start of the next homestand, which is Friday night against the Braves.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said it's fine if Pedroia stays on a seven-inning progression in his rehab.

"You play seven, you can play eight, you can play nine, it's not a big deal," said Cora. "I think it's more the back-to-back thing."

Pedroia has provided comedy for Cora via text messages.

"He had issues with the strike zone yesterday. That was funny," said Cora. "Not only him, I think [Jordan] Betts got thrown out and [manager Kevin Boles]. I think KB told the umpire, 'Hey man, I've got Dustin Pedroia on my team.' He was like, 'OK.' That's what Pedey says anyways."

When Pedroia returns, it will allow Cora to rotate all of his infielders to keep everyone fresh. Eduardo Nunez will roam between second, short and third. Third baseman Rafael Devers, who has struggled at the plate of late, can get some more rest.

"Whenever Pedey comes in, we have to see how the rest of the rotation goes," said Cora. "It's going to benefit everybody. Raffy, Xander, Eduardo, even Brock. We'll find a way to make everything work. One thing for sure, we're going to be a more complete team when Pedey comes back." 

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

Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia