Dustin Pedroia will be on hand for the Red Sox’ home opener Tuesday. The question is whether he will be there just for the pregame ceremonies or as part of the lineup against the Blue Jays.
On Sunday, Pedroia completed his three-game rehab stint with the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox’ Single A affiliate. He went 3 for 9 with a pair of walks and a strikeout, hitting line drives while getting a workout both on the bases and in the field that included back-to-back games on Thursday (nine innings) and Friday (five innings), as well as an additional nine innings Sunday.
Pedroia felt he checked all the necessary boxes.
“I’m pretty confident that I’m going to be back for good and it’s going to be fun,” Pedroia told WSPA-TV in Greenville. “Everything went perfect. I feel great. I’m ready to go.”
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in an e-mail that the team will make a decision about whether to activate Pedroia on Tuesday morning.
Pedroia, 35, played in just three games at the end of last May in his return from multiple surgeries on his left knee before he landed back on the sidelines for the rest of the season, during which time he required another procedure to remove scar tissue.
But since returning to the field in spring training, Pedroia has tolerated a steady buildup of activity without any setbacks.
If he is ready to return, he has a chance to boost the production of a position from which the Red Sox have gotten little offense. Brock Holt was 1 for 16 before landing on the injured list with a scratched cornea, and Eduardo Nunez is hitting .167/.167/.200 in 31 plate appearances.
The Red Sox are asking fans to be in their seats by 12:45 p.m. for the pregame ceremonies, which will include the unveiling of the 2018 championship banner and the presentation of the World Series rings. The park will open at 11:35 a.m., 2½ hours before first pitch — a departure from the standard regular-season practice of opening 90 minutes before first pitch.
As part of the celebration, Red Sox players will wear hats and jerseys that feature gold trim, as well as World Series patches on their hats and left sleeves.
Prior to the opening of the park, a swearing-in ceremony for 30 Air Force recruits will take place at 9 a.m.
Though free agent Craig Kimbrel was invited to attend the Opening Day ceremonies to receive his ring, team CEO/president Sam Kennedy said in a statement that the former Red Sox closer declined.
“I spoke with Craig at length [Sunday],” Kennedy said. “While he really appreciated our invite and outreach, he feels his attendance might create a distraction. Out of respect for his teammates, he has chosen to not attend. While disappointed, we totally respect and understand his decision.”
For established big leaguers, the idea of fundamental mid-career swing adjustments represents a leap of faith. It is no small task to alter a lifetime of training in an effort to achieve better outcomes.
Jackie Bradley Jr. committed himself to just such an alteration this offseason, building upon some of the adjustments he made in the middle of last season by going to the same California facility that helped J.D. Martinez redefine his swing from down and direct to the ball to an uppercut on the plane of the pitch.
The initial spring training returns showed immense promise, with Bradley launching a couple of long homers at the start.
But the regular season hasn’t offered the same immediate returns. Bradley is hitting .184/.205/.211 with one walk and 12 strikeouts in 39 plate appearances.
Yet the 28-year-old outfielder — who started making better contact over the weekend in Arizona, chiefly in the form of loud, long outs to the gaps — is not second-guessing the decision to adjust his swing.
Instead, he suggests that his slow start is a product of poor mechanics with his new swing. In reviewing video, Bradley has seen himself “reverting back to old habits” that he’s trying to kick.
“That’s the fine line that you play making adjustments,” Bradley said. “I’m not doing it right right now. I’ve got to get back to doing it the correct way.
“I’m not worried about it. I feel like I’m heading in the right direction. Now it’s time to get the results.”