Posted on October 25, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Boston Red Sox will start the 2018 season without second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox announced on Wednesday that Pedroia has undergone a “cartilage restoration procedure” on his left knee. Pedroia is expected to be sidelined for at least seven months. With that timeline, he won’t be back until late May at the earliest.
The 34-year old Pedroia played the entire 2017 season with pain in his left knee. He underwent surgery last offseason to repair a torn meniscus in the same knee. In early August, Pedroia was sent to the DL with knee inflammation. After spending the minimum of 10 days on the DL, Pedroia was only active for a few days before the knee sent him back to the DL for the rest of August.
On the season, Pedroia hit .293 with an OPS of .760. However, he was limited to 105 games and was far from his best in September. He continued to struggle during the playoffs, going 2 for 16 in four games. After the Red Sox were eliminated from the postseason by the Astros, Pedroia refused to use the knee as an excuse for his performance.
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“You know, we dealt with a lot the whole year, injury-wise, but that’s the cards you’re dealt,” Pedroia said after Boston’s Game 4 ALDS loss to Houston. “You still have to find a way to play well, and they just played better than us. And it stings.”
Following the season, Pedroia knew that fixing his knee surgically would mean a long recovery time. However, after playing with pain all season, he’s clearly in need of the procedure.
Pedroia still has four years and $56 million left on his contract with the Red Sox. As much as Boston would like him available for the start of next season, the Red Sox can’t afford to have Pedroia making frequent trips to the DL for the next four years. Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said Pedroia “should return to his pre-injury playing form” once he recovers from the surgery.
Dombrowski denies this will be the case, but knowing that Pedroia will miss at least the first two months of 2018 could have an impact on Boston’s plans this winter. It could make the re-signing of Eduardo Nunez more of a priority. Nunez could serve as Boston’s primary second baseman while Pedroia is out. He could then shift into a utility role when Pedroia returns.
There has also been speculation that the Red Sox would non-tender utility man Brock Holt. Holt had a dreadful offensive season in 2017 amidst struggles with vertigo. However, Holt would provide another option at second base. The Red Sox could also pursue veteran middle infielders who could move to a bench role when Pedroia returns. Stephen Drew, Danny Espinosa, and Cliff Pennington are among the free agents who fit that description.
The Red Sox appear to be confident that Pedroia will come back strong from the surgery. The team also seems sure that they can survive a couple months without him next season. However, with a seven-month recovery following a serious knee surgery, it’s too soon to say with certainty that the old Pedroia will be back in 2018.