The Red Sox were 63-29 entering Tuesday’s game, so to say they have missed Dustin Pedroia might be a stretch. Then again, Red Sox second basemen rank 14th in offense with a .255 average and 22nd in OPS at .656.
Have they survived without Pedroia? Yes. Have they thrived? No.
We have no idea whether Pedroia will be back with the Red Sox this season. He has returned to his Arizona home and will execute his adjusted rehab plan with the personal trainer he worked with in the offseason. Manager Alex Cora said he thought Pedroia would be playing baseball for the team at some time this season, but he emphasized that was just a personal feeling.
Cora said the decision to get Pedroia away from the team was made so he wouldn’t feel the distractions and the tug to get on the field sooner than he is able. The rehab program Pedroia went through did not yield the desired results. Cora said because the restoration cartilage surgery Pedroia underwent is relatively new for baseball players, the rehab program is also constantly being tweaked.
“We love him to be around here. For now it’s better he go over there and disconnect a little bit from all this and just concentrate on himself. There are going to be some adjustments on the rehab dealing with hammy and core and gluts. I think that’s the best thing we can do right now.”
Pedroia was talking to Cora on the bench during Monday’s 5-0 win over the Rangers.
“He’s very important to what we’re trying to accomplish here. If everything goes the way [it] should go, whenever he comes back, he comes back.”
Cora said the week Pedroia spent in New York with the surgeon helped to make the adjustments they feel necessary to strengthen the areas around the left knee.
“I expect him to play,” Cora repeated. “What I’ve been saying all along and it didn’t happen the first time, but we want him to stay healthy and play. We’re not going to put a timetable on it and take we’ll take it day by day.
Cora said Pedroia learned “good things about it. It’s nothing structural. Just some adjustments around the knee that are going to help the knee. He’s done his research. He cares and he wants to contribute. He’s in a good place now.”
Cora said there was a lot of attention directed to Pedroia by the medical staff and Pedroia was wary of taking time away from the players who are playing.
“It’s a unique situation because this type of surgery has never happened to baseball players. In basketball you can tell a head coach the player is going to play for 12 minutes and that’s it. I think the doctor also learned through the process [about baseball],” Cora said.
“The most important thing is to be healthy. This is not just about contributing this year, but for the rest of his career.”
Pedroia, who turns 35 next month and is owed $40 million from 2019-2021, is basically starting fresh with a new program. He was told that the first year back might be tough, that he may experience occasional soreness as the knee gets tested in real game situations. It’s disappointing for Pedroia who wanted to be part of this team because of the talent level.
The Red Sox have survived primarily using Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt at second base. The Sox are giving up range on defense, but both players, in their own right, have contributed. Nunez hasn’t quite been the player who impacted Boston’s lineup when Dave Dombrowski acquired him from San Francisco near the trading deadline last season. Nunez sparked, if not carried the Red Sox offense, until he hurt his knee late in the season and then was unable to perform in the playoffs.
Holt has returned from concussion issues last season to play well as he’s moved around the infield. Holt’s best position has always been second base.
The Red Sox also acquired veteran four-time Gold Glover Brandon Phillips, who is 37 years old and currently getting in shape in Lowell. Phillips could be someone added to the mix at some point if neither Nunez nor Holt are effective.
Other players have been linked to the Red Sox in a possible trade scenario, including Minnesota’s Brian Dozier, who has not had a great season in his walk year in Minnesota. Yet Dozier is considered one of the best second basemen in the game and could be had relatively cheaply.
The Marlins would deal Starlin Castro. The Reds will talk about Scooter Gennett.
Still, Nunez hasn’t killed them defensively, neither has Holt. They have provided Cora with a good enough tandem under the circumstances.
While some fans have put Pedroia in the rear view mirror, a Red Sox team with a healthy Pedroia would have been ideal. The Red Sox would have had their Gold Glove second baseman, who can hit close to .300, and add spark. Cora has lamented the loss all season because he and Pedroia were always close. Cora wanted Pedroia to be part of the leadership of the team, but it just didn’t work out that way.
When Dombrowski re-signed Nunez in the offseason, it was for protection in case Pedroia couldn’t make it back. It’s a good thing he did.
The Red Sox have survived the Pedroia loss and will continue to do so. But it would have been better with him.