Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia talked about adjustments he’s made in his rehab process and why he’s confident about his return this time.
Dustin Pedroia‘s return from knee surgery proved unsuccessful last season, lasting only three games before he re-aggravated the injury and the Boston Red Sox were forced to put him back on the shelf. This year will be different – at least according to Pedroia.
The veteran second baseman remains confident that he’ll return to reclaim his position in 2019, telling the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam that his days of rehabbing his knee are behind him.
"“In my mind, I’m coming into (spring training) not as a rehab guy, but as an everyday player that, yes, is coming back from an injury,” Pedroia said. “But I don’t see myself having any restrictions.”"
Pedroia explained that he learned his lesson from pushing too hard to rush back into action last year. The Red Sox were in the midst of a historic season that ultimately led to a World Series title. We can’t blame Pedroia for wanting to be part of that but his persistence backfired, essentially leading to a lost season.
This time he’s listening to his doctor’s orders and adjusting his rehab to ensure he gets his recovery right. The plan seems to be paying off, as Pedroia insists his knee is feeling good as spring training approaches.
"“Listen, I’m in a lot better position right now than I was last year,” said Pedroia. “I’m very confident and excited that I’m going to be able to do it and go forward. Now I understand a lot more than I did last year. I was trying to heal while I was rehabbing and that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. I’ve taken time and changed my rehab philosophy, let my knee heal a lot more and I feel good.”"
Pedroia clearly wasn’t himself while attempting to battle through the pain in his brief stint last season. He went 1-for-11 with a pair of walks in 13 plate appearances over three games.
However, he’s only two years removed from hitting .293/.369/.392 in 105 games. The 35-year old could see some age-related deterioration at the plate but we shouldn’t assume his skills have fallen off a cliff already. He doesn’t have much pop left in his bat but nobody should be surprised if the career .300 hitter produces a solid average.
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Red Sox second basemen combined to hit .252/.308/.350 last season. It’s hardly a stretch to believe a healthy Pedroia can top those numbers. The four-time Gold Glove award winner may have lost a step in the field but even a declining Pedroia is far better than Eduardo Nunez at second base.
Boston acquired Ian Kinsler mid-season to shore up their defense at the position when Nunez proved to be an inadequate replacement. Kinsler has since departed in free agency, leaving the job clear for Pedroia to reclaim. He may no longer be at the elite defensive level that Kinsler is but Pedroia should hit better than the .238 average that Kinsler produced in 36 games with the team.
If Pedroia is indeed as healthy as he claims to be, we should expect to see an above-average defensive second baseman who hits for a higher average than his replacements collectively produced last year.
Is Pedroia really healthy or is this merely a confident player being optimistic? We’ll have to wait for spring training to find out but if he has learned a lesson from last season then it lessons concerns of another setback.