Posted on May 24, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Boston Red Sox have done all right for themselves these first 50 games of the season. Nearly one-third into the season, the Red Sox have the most wins in baseball. They also hold a lead, albeit a slim one, atop the AL East. On top of that, the Red Sox appear poised to become even better. On Friday, the club will activate veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia from the DL. The 34-year old will make his season debut Friday when the Red Sox begin a series against the Braves.
Pedroia has missed the first part of the season following offseason knee surgery. The surgery addressed the knee issues that plagued Pedroia last season, sending him to the DL twice while limiting to 105 games. But seven months after the surgery and following a handful of minor league rehab games, Pedroia is ready to return to the Red Sox and help a team that’s not necessarily in need of much help.
“We know how passionate he is, the quality of at-bats he will give us and defensively, what he brings,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Pedroia Thursday. “When healthy, he’s one of the best second basemen in the big leagues. I’m looking forward to having him in the lineup. I think his energy is going to help not only on the field but off the field with his leadership.”
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Of course, it remains to be seen if Pedroia is still the same player after surgery. Last season, Pedroia hit .293 with a .760 OPS. While the Red Sox can certainly live with those types of numbers at the keystone, they were among the lowest of Pedroia’s career. Pedroia also had just one hit in 14 at-bats during his five minor league rehab games.
On top of concerns about Pedroia’s offensive production, there are questions about how often he’ll be able to play. The club knows they will likely need to manage Pedroia’s knee issues for the rest of his career. He’s under contract through the 2021 season. That means Pedroia can expect frequent off days. The Red Sox can use him as a DH on those days, although they would have to do so at the expense of one of their outfielders.
In Pedroia’s absence, Eduardo Nunez has received a majority of the playing time at second base. Brock Holt has also started games there. Even with Pedroia needing plenty of rest, both Nunez and Holt will fall back into utility roles. Of course, that would appear to only make the Red Sox stronger.
“Our lineup is going to be as long and our bench is going to be better,” says Cora. “With all those options (on the bench), we can match up with anyone late in the game.”
Obviously, only time will tell to see how much of an impact Pedroia’s return will make on the Red Sox. The good news for Boston is they don’t need Pedroia to be a difference maker. The Red Sox are currently getting contributions from most of the players in their lineup. Even if he doesn’t hit the ground running, there’s little doubt Pedroia will be a welcome addition to Boston’s roster.