Pedroia likely to make spring debut this week

Veteran second baseman homered in batting practice

March 4th, 2019

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The most-anticipated event of this Spring Training for the Red Sox -- playing in a game -- could happen as early as Thursday.

"I’ll probably be getting into games here pretty soon, the next couple of days," Pedroia told reporters in Fort Myers. "You know, just keep it going, keep progressing, and I’ve come a long way, so I’m excited."

What was billed ahead of time by manager Alex Cora as a milestone workout day on Monday for the second baseman went off without incident.

In fact, Pedroia smashed a batting-practice homer to straightaway center in Fort Myers, and Cora heard about it from Port St. Lucie, where the Red Sox were getting ready to play the Mets.

"I was surprised about that," Pedroia said. "I haven’t hit a home run to center in batting practice in my life. I don’t know if someone got that on video because they might be lying to me."

Though Thursday is the day the medical staff thinks Pedroia should be game-ready, Cora was contemplating pushing it back to Friday in Sarasota against the Orioles.

The reason is because Thursday’s home game against the Twins is on ESPN, and Cora doesn’t want Pedroia to over-exert himself on national television.

It sounds like the decision is still up to negotiations.

"We'll talk, we'll see how it goes today. I saw him in the morning, he was upbeat," Cora said. "Thursday is national TV and all this stuff is going on, I'd rather wait. It's still news, we know it, whenever he plays, but I'd rather go with our local guys instead of national stuff."

Whether it is Thursday or Friday doesn’t much matter. What does matter is that Pedroia is about to get back on the field, and the Red Sox can at last get a true gauge as to where he is at with a left knee that troubled him for the last two seasons and limited him to three games in 2018.

The 35-year-old Pedroia has responded well to everything during Spring Training, and wasn’t aware that Monday was such a measuring stick until the media told him.

"Oh no, I felt great," said Pedroia. "I didn’t know it was a milestone day. It was? Honestly, I didn’t even know he said that ... That was another day for me. I mean, you know, I felt good."

While there’s obviously been a lot of focus on Pedroia’s every move this spring, he is trying to tune all that out and focus on whichever task the team puts in front of him.

"Oh yeah, I feel just like I’m preparing for another season. So far, so good," Pedroia said. "I feel normal. I don’t want to get too excited. I’m just sticking to the plan and trying to get better every day. That’s it. Today was a great day, but I’ve got to have another one tomorrow."

And once Pedroia gets into the game routine, the Red Sox will get a better idea of whether his comeback can be successful.

If all goes well, Pedroia will be able to play 120 to 125 games this season. Cora won’t even consider trying to push him beyond that.

"I can do everything," Pedroia said. "They’re just, they don’t want me to do everything all the time right away. So, it’s slowly building up, but no, I feel great. Just keep it rolling."

If Pedroia does have a setback, the Red Sox have two veteran options to share time at second base in Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez.

With those two players shouldering much of the load at second base last season, and (now with the Padres) coming on after the July 31 Trade Deadline, the Red Sox won the World Series.

The goal is for 2019 to end the same way, only this time with their familiar and fiery fixture back at second base.