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Dustin Pedroia and Cody Ross closer to returning for Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia hasn’t played since Monday, when he tore a muscle in his right thumb.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Dustin Pedroia hasn’t played since Monday, when he tore a muscle in his right thumb.

TORONTO - Cody Ross and Dustin Pedroia could be back in the Red Sox’ lineup as soon as next week.

Ross, who fractured his left foot in Philadelphia May 18, said he feels fine and hopes to start running and hitting when the team returns to Fenway Park on Tuesday.

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From there, he may need only a few minor league rehabilitation games before returning to the lineup.

“I’m pretty close,’’ Ross said Friday. “My foot feels fine. I’m not going to need an MRI or an X-ray or anything like that. I could run right now if I wanted to.’’

Ross was hitting .271 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs when he went on the disabled list.

Pedroia hasn’t played since Monday, when he tore a muscle in his right thumb. But he took ground balls for a few minutes on Friday and plans to start hitting on Tuesday.

“They want me to take it easy this weekend,’’ Pedroia said. “But I think I can play on Tuesday. Come in, hit, and go play. I should be OK.’’

Pedroia has been fitted with a brace that would protect him from jarring contact, particularly at the plate.

Podsednik’s chance

Scott Podsednik started in center field for the second straight game on Friday and for the fourth time in the last six games. Podsednik is 9 for 23 with three extra-base hits in his first eight games for the Sox. He was 1 for 5 Friday night in the Sox’ 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

At 36, he is relishing the chance to play in the majors again after a year away due to injuries.

“I feel like I can still play. I feel like I still have gas left in the tank. My body’s feeling great. But whether you get that opportunity is a whole different story,’’ Podsednik said. “Until I can’t go out and steal a base, until I’m not running that well, I think I would be doing myself an injustice by not trying to go out and play.’’

That he has to fight for playing time is fine, especially considering that only a few weeks ago Podsednik was hitting .203 for Triple A Lehigh Valley before being acquired by the Sox.

“It’s something I’ve been through before,’’ Podsednik said. “I had to grind to get to the big leagues, first and foremost. I’ve been in these positions before where I had to go out and compete for jobs. You’re sort of fighting for your life. I prepare myself, go out and play and let it fly. I was fortunate to get this opportunity to come here and play.’’

Bobby Valentine, who shuffles his outfield almost every day given all the injuries, likes what he sees from Podsednik.

“He’s been great, very professional,’’ the manager said. “A little stronger swing than I had remembered. It seems like he sees the ball pretty well.

“The toughest thing is what he was trying to do prior to this and that’s play when you’re not healthy . . . When you lose a little physical edge, it’s really tough to compete, and he’s healthy now. I think he feels good about the competition.’’

Podsednik is 6 for 14 (.429) at Fenway Park this season and 21 of 59 (.356) for his career.

“I’ve always loved playing there,’’ he said. “There’s an energy there, it’s a fun place to play. I get up for those kinds of games and that kind of atmosphere. I was excited about playing at Fenway on a consistent basis.’’

Youkilis gets a day

Kevin Youkilis was out of the starting lineup as Valentine continued to juggle a roster that essentially has two starting third basemen. Youkilis told Valentine he preferred to play on Saturday and Sunday ahead of the day off on Monday.

Will Middlebrooks (1 for 4) was at third base and Adrian Gonzalez (3 for 5, 2 RBIs) was at first.

Youkilis was 10 for 32 with two home runs in his first nine games since coming off the disabled list.

“He’s been great, Youk’s 100 percent. When he’s 100 percent he’s a really good member of a team,’’ Valentine said. “He’s playing good defense, running the bases well, having his good at-bats.’’

Notice Valentine said “a team.’’ The Red Sox are receiving trade inquiries about Youkilis. The team holds a $13 million option on him for 2013.

Prior to Pawtucket

The Red Sox added former All-Star Mark Prior to the Pawtucket roster. The 31-year-old righthander hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2006 because of a series of injuries.

Prior pitched in 11 minor league games for the Yankees last season before shoulder pain ended his comeback bid. He later had surgery for a groin injury then signed with the Red Sox, where he had been pitching in extended spring training.

“He’s made constant progress,’’ Valentine said. “People have liked his attitude and his throwing ability.’’

Prior is trying to come back as a reliever. He was 42-29 with a 3.51 earned run average for the Cubs from 2002-06.

“It seems like decades ago,’’ Valentine said.

Matsuzaka on track

Daisuke Matsuzaka will start for Pawtucket on Tuesday at McCoy Stadium against Indianapolis . . . The PawSox were rained out on Friday at Lehigh Valley. Darnell McDonald was to play in his fourth rehab game . . . Drake Britton, a 23-year-old lefthander, was promoted to Double A Portland. He was 1-13 with a 6.91 ERA in 26 Single A starts last season and had a rough April for Salem. But Britton had a 2.14 ERA in five starts in May, allowing 21 hits over 25 2/3 innings and striking out 29 . . . The Blue Jays called up righthander Robert Coello from Triple A Las Vegas and optioned lefthander Aaron Laffey. Coello was with the Red Sox in 2010, appearing in six games. He has not been in the majors since. He pitched two scoreless innings Friday night.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.
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