Cora Making Sure Pedroia Takes It Easy
By Tom Keegan
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Having the discipline to follow a more cautious plan to return from serious knee surgery is not among Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s concerns this spring. Just in case though, his shadow is there to pump the brakes.
“I like to be around his field because he’ll try to get five, 10 more, ‘I can sprint here. I can go there,’” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “There is something about me telling him no that he knows that that’s it.”
Tough thing for Pedroia to do?
“No,” he said. “Not really. It’s my job. Listen to your manager. Do what you’re told.”
Cora said he liked what he saw Thursday, but doesn’t consider that to be the best way to read the situation.
“He can run around and do everything,” Cora said. ”(Friday’s) the big day. If he’s able to show up tomorrow and there’s no pain, no soreness, it’s a win for him, and obviously it’s a win for us.”
It’s way early, but Pedroia, 35, said that so far, every tomorrow has been good.
“I haven’t left here thinking I’m sore and I hope tomorrow is going to be better,” Pedroia said. “Every day has been great, and I’ve felt better the next day, so just keep it going.”
Pedroia, who underwent a procedure that involves trying to restore cartilage by grafting some from a cadaver and transplanting it, did his best to explain what happened late last May when he took 11 at-bats in three games and then was shut down for the remainder of the season.
“My knee couldn’t handle the load,” Pedroia said. “It needs time to incorporate everything, to get used to the pounding and things like that. If you do things too soon, the body will stop. That’s what happened.”
Last season’s experience tells him not to read too much into anything too soon.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I don’t try to get too happy. I was really happy after the first game I played last year and three days later it was really bad, so I just try to have good days and enjoy it. I’m not trying to get too high or too low.”
It’s not always easy to tell if something works until you try it.
“My knee wasn’t healed, you know what I mean?” Pedroia said of last season’s attempt. “It just needed time to heal. The human body, it’s on it’s own program, man. I’ve played through injuries and things like that. Sometimes, if you’ve got a surgery like that, you need time, man. That’s it.”
In the event Pedroia is able to play a lot, there is more in play regarding his return than the fitness of his left knee.
“He hasn’t played in a while on a consistent basis,” Cora said. “You’ve got to train your eyes and your load, get your feet under you and all that, but he’s in a good place.”
In that regard, Cora sounded encouraged by what he saw from Pedroia, whose career batting average stands at .300.
“In live BP the other day there were some pitches that were balls, and he was able to take them,” Cora said. “Actually, he was real happy the way he picked them up. He has a batting machine at home and all that. He worked on a few things, but you have to train your eyes and get back to it.”
Pedroia didn’t sound at all worried about recovering that aspect of his baseball talent.
“Obviously, I want to play and get back in rhythm,” he said. “But I’ve played a lot of games. I understand the speed of the game and what it takes to play, so I’m not worried about that. Our concern is, physically we want to make sure my knee’s OK, because if my knee’s OK, I’ll be fine.”
It’s a big if and a big, big deal for the Red Sox if he recovers.