Dustin Pedroia could play in a game this week for Red Sox
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Monday marked a significant day in spring training for Dustin Pedroia, a full workout that manager Alex Cora said would help determine when the second baseman is ready for a game.
As reporters approached him after a roughly hour-long session that included ground balls, five rounds of batting practice, and several sprints around the bases — home to first, first to second, and second to home — Pedroia arched his eyebrows.
How did the milestone day go?
“I didn’t know it was a milestone day,” Pedroia said. “Honestly, I didn’t even know [Cora] said that.”
The one milestone that piqued Pedroia’s interest was a homer he hit to center field with his last swing of the third round of batting practice.
“I was surprised by that. I haven’t hit a home run to center field in batting practice in my life,” Pedroia said. “I don’t know if someone got that on video.”
The fact that the workout otherwise represented little of note in Pedroia’s eyes suggested that, to date, his ongoing recovery from multiple knee surgeries is progressing well.
Some caution is necessary in that proclamation, given that Pedroia insisted during the buildup to his ill-fated, three-game return last season that he felt great. But to this point, the 35-year-old has been pleased with how his body has responded to the buildup.
“I feel just like I’m preparing for another season. So far, so good,” Pedroia said. “I feel normal. I don’t want to get too excited. I’m just sticking to the plan and trying to get better every day. That’s it. Today was a great day, but I’ve got to have another one tomorrow.”
Pedroia said that he anticipates getting into a game in “the next couple of days.” Prior to the game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Cora pointed to Friday’s game against the Orioles in Sarasota as a potential date for Pedroia to play.
Cora prefers not to have Pedroia return for Thursday’s home game in Fort Myers, which will be broadcast on ESPN.
“I’d rather wait,” Cora said. “It’s still news, we know it, whenever he plays. I’d rather do it with our local guys than the whole national stuff.”
That said, if Cora waits until Friday to play Pedroia, it would require sending his longest-tenured player for a 170-mile round trip.
“That’s OK. If he wants to play, yeah,” the manager said. “We’ll talk about that.”
The exact date and venue seems less significant than the fact that Pedroia is expected back in games soon — and at a time when he happened to show unusual power in batting practice. What might be possible for him this year?
“Maybe 45 homers, 120 RBIs, 40 stolen bases, a Gold Glove, Comeback Player of the Year, and MVP? I wouldn’t put it past him after seeing him go deep to center,” Brock Holt deadpanned. “No, but I’m excited for him. He looks good. I think he’s ready to go. I’m happy for him. It’s been a while. We’re excited to have him back, for sure.”
Blake Swihart, who left camp on Thursday afternoon to be with his family following the unexpected death of his brother Romell Jordan, rejoined the team on Monday morning.
Swihart expressed gratitude to his teammates, the front office, fans, and the media for their support amidst his shock and grief.
“It just proves how close we are as a team. We’re really brothers. There’s times where, during the year, where we’re with these guys more than we are with our own families. They’re family in their own right. It just shows how close we are as a team,” Swihart said.
“It’s been an emotional time. I’m doing a lot better now. Family’s doing good. Just the support, honestly everything has been awesome. The ceremony was good. Seeing all the flowers sent from everybody, all the messages I’ve received, not only by the team but all around baseball, it’s been great.”
Swihart said playing on Thursday against the Nationals, the day that he learned of his brother’s death, was particularly meaningful. It allowed him to honor his brother and experience the support of his teammates and the fans.
Cora said that he’d give Swihart the option of making the cross-state trip to play the Nationals on Tuesday in West Palm Beach. Swihart said that he was eager to do just that.
Get back out there
In Port St. Lucie, there was a three-minute rain delay in the fourth inning of the game against the Mets. As soon as play was halted, the rain stopped and the umpires decided to press on. The game finished without further delay . . . Bryce Brentz was in the lineup to play left field against the Mets. But he was sent back to Fort Myers after feeling sick. Brentz, Brian Johnson and Steve Pearce have taken ill in the last week. The Sox had a team-wide bout of the flu in 2017 during spring training and Cora is worried something similar could occur. Pearce will play on Wednesday and Johnson hopes to throw in the bullpen later this week . . . Former White Sox righthander Zach Putnam, who is in camp on a minor league deal, has been shut down because of a hamstring strain. The Sox will take the time to treat his back stiffness. “Hopefully when he comes back he’ll be better for it,” Cora said. . . . Righthander Jenrry Mejia will be added to the roster for the Nationals game on Tuesday. Righthander Durbin Feltman, a third-round pick last June, is likely to get in a game over the weekend . . . Bobby Orr stopped by batting practice in Port St. Lucie and chatted with some of the Red Sox officials before watching a few innings. Orr turns 71 on March 20 but looks like he’s 51 . . . The Mets offered a moment of silence before the game for Jordan and Globe columnist Nick Cafardo.