BOSTON (CBS) — Before he can return to the big leagues, Dustin Pedroia will start in the minors. Way down in the minors.
After another successful eight-inning stint in Fort Myers, Florida on Sunday, Pedroia is just about ready to begin his minor-league rehab assignment. Boston manager Alex Cora announced Sunday that after Pedroia plays nine innings at JetBlue Park on Tuesday, the second baseman will join Single-A Greenville for their season-opener on Thursday.
Why Single-A Greenville and not Double-A Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket? There are weather concerns with Boston’s two upper-level affiliates while it’s projected to be perfect baseball weather in Greenville, where the Drive will open their season with a four-game set from Thursday through Sunday.
If Pedroia can put in some quality innings while in Greenville, and his knee holds up, there is a chance he could be on the field at Fenway Park when the Red Sox open at home next Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. That has been a target for Pedroia since he learned he would start the season on the injured list, though Cora wouldn’t commit to that on Sunday.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” the Boston skipper said Sunday.
Pedroia is trying to come back after missing all but three games last season due to left knee surgery. He still hasn’t played on back-to-back days this spring, but Cora remains optimistic that Pedroia can be productive for the Red Sox in 2019.
“I think whenever he gets here, he’ll step it up a notch,” Cora said. “So far, so good. There’s no setbacks. We actually expect that from him the rest of the time, but let’s see how he goes with nine and see how he goes whenever he plays back to back, see the workload, and hopefully he can [withstand it]. He’s saying he’s swinging the bat well and getting on base a lot so hopefully he can keep doing that, not for his benefit, but for our benefit so we can get more information.”
Pedroia saw action in seven exhibition games this spring, going 5-for-15 at the plate while playing 30 innings in the field.