As much as the struggles of their young players became a focal point for the Red Sox’ offensive decline in 2014, the plague of injured veterans may have been even more devastating. That being the case, the pre-spring training signs suggest cause for some optimism.
In an interview on Sirius XM MLB Network Radio, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that second baseman Dustin Pedroia – who underwent season-ending surgery on his left wrist in September – has recovered to the point of having no restrictions as a baseball player. Farrell believes that the 31-year-old, who struggled to career lows in average (.278), OBP (.337) and slugging percentage (.376) in 2014, will be in position to hit the ball with greater authority this coming season.
“He’s been cleared completely from a physical standpoint to resume all baseball activities. The strength has been regained,” Farrell said. “We talk about pitchers bouncing back, I wouldn’t say Dustin is a bounceback situation, but the fact that he’s gotten some of these hand issues behind him, we feel like Dustin is one of our leaders, clearly. To have him pain-free or without restriction, we feel like there’s going to be a return of the ability to drive the baseball as he’s done in the past. And I know that he’s confident. What that means, a louder Dustin Pedroia is always a good thing.”
Meanwhile, Mike Napoli — who underwent surgery to address sleep apnea — is slated to resume hitting on Friday, according to his agent, Brian Greiper. After he lost weight in the immediate aftermath of the surgery while unable to eat, he has regained the dropped pounds and is now back at his preferred playing weight of 230 pounds, Grieper said.
In 2014, Napoli hit .248 with a .370 OBP and career-low .419 slugging mark while dealing with worsening issues with sleep apnea along with injuries to his finger, toe, knee, and back that helped to limit him to 119 games. For his career, he has marks of .257/.359/.491.
Before slipping to 17 homers in 2014, he was one of 11 big leaguers with at least 20 homers in each of the six seasons from 2008-13.
Follow Alex Speier on Twitter at @alexspeier.