Red Sox: Jackie Bradley, Dustin Pedroia could return for Yankees series

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13: Jackie Bradley Jr.
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13: Jackie Bradley Jr. /

The Boston Red Sox could get a couple of key players back during their weekend series in the Bronx, as Jackie Bradley and Dustin Pedroia near returns.

With a key series with the division rival New York Yankees looming this weekend, the Boston Red Sox may be in store for some reinforcements.

Manager John Farrell told reporters on Monday that Jackie Bradley, Jr. could return from the disabled list when he’s first eligible on Saturday. The center fielder has been sidelined with a sprained thumb that was banged up sliding across home plate in a 9-1 victory in Cleveland last Tuesday.

Andrew Benintendi should continue to be the primary center fielder until Bradley returns, although Farrell did indicate that Rajai Davis could see time at the position against left-handed pitching. The Red Sox will wrap up their current series in Toronto by facing a pair of southpaws in Brett Anderson and J.A. Happ before moving on to the Bronx for the start of a four-game series. Keep an eye on the lineups to see if Davis fills in during at least one of those games against the Jays.

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While Boston’s other outfield options have done a serviceable job in center field during his absence, few can match the defensive wizardry for Bradley. His return will give the team a boost by making the entire pitching staff more comfortable with every fly ball.

It will also benefit the team to have Bradley’s bat in the lineup, which was starting to heat up prior to the injury. Bradly has recorded a hit in seven of his last 10 games, including three multi-hit games. He’s hitting .333 over that stretch with a triple and a home run.

Dustin Pedroia could also join Bradley in the lineup this weekend. The veteran second baseman has been on the disabled list (retroactive to Aug. 9) with left knee inflammation. It’s his third DL stint this year. He rushed back from a bout of knee soreness earlier this month but lasted only one game before being sent back to the sidelines.

Despite being limited to 86 games this season, Pedroia’s 86 hits are the fifth most on the team. He leads the Red Sox with a .378 OBP (minimum 20 games) and his .303 batting average trails only Eduardo Nunez, who has been with the team for only 27 games. Nunez has been covering second base in his absence and it remains to be seen where Farrell will find room for him once Pedroia returns. One thing is for certain, they can’t take Nunez out of the lineup.

That decision will need to be made soon with Pedroia nearing a return. He will take the next step by running the bases this week to test his knee, with a return this weekend a possibility.

Pedroia is 6-for-20 (.300) against Yankees pitching this season, while Bradley’s 7 RBI are the second most on the team against the Bronx Bombers. Getting both back in the lineup for this upcoming series would go a long way toward escaping New York with a series victory.

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The Red Sox currently hold a 3.5 game lead over the Yankees. They will remain at the top of the division entering the series but have no assurances of retaining that lead by the end of it. Beating the Yankees in their own ballpark will be no easy task, but at least the Red Sox could have their lineup back at full strength for the series.