Dustin Pedroia will begin a rehab assignment on Thursday with Double A Portland.
Pedroia has been on the injured list since April 19 (retroactive to April 18) with left knee irritation. After missing all but three games last season, Pedroia played just six games before issues with his surgically repaired knee resurfaced.
The most pressing issue is making sure that Pedroia can be an everyday player once he returns.
“There’s a plan in place,” manager Alex Cora said. “He’s going to push himself to be an everyday player. That’s something that we want, too. We talked about our situation, where we’re at roster-wise and all that, and he agrees, he understands. For him, too, it’s good. That’s who he is.”
There’s no timetable for Pedroia’s return, but Cora said the second baseman has improved over his time on the injured list. He recently switched to a new custom double upright knee brace, which helps in allowing him to use his legs when he swings a bat.
“He looked better [Tuesday] hitting off the machine, using his legs, working on a few things,” Cora said. “With Pedey, it’s funny because he does everything game-like except BP. I talked to him a little [Tuesday], ‘Just try it, you know? It’s good for you mechanic-wise, what you’re trying to accomplish and all that. Just let it go.’
“And he did. He was getting on top of the ball, he was hitting line drives all over the place, so hopefully he goes down there and everything’s fine, and whenever he’s ready, he’s ready.”
After going 0 for 4 and playing third base in his second rehab game with Triple A Pawtucket on Tuesday, Eduardo Nunez (back strain) was scheduled to be the PawSox’ designated hitter on Wednesday night, but the game in Buffalo was rained out.
The target is for Nunez to get 20 at-bats.
“If he needs more at-bats, he needs more at-bats,” Cora said. “We’ll make a decision whenever we have to make it, but so far, so good.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit safely in three of his last four games after going 1 for 2 with a single in the second inning of Wednesday afternoon’s 7-3 win over the Athletics. Cora said the contact Bradley has been making recently is a positive sign.
“He’s attacking the first pitch a little more,” Cora said. “The results have been on and off. I know the numbers are the numbers, but I think approach-wise he’s been better this homestand.”
Bradley has reached base safely in nine of his last 10 games with seven walks over that stretch. Cora said he intends to keep Bradley in the lineup.
“When he’s doing things like this — putting the ball in play, staying up the middle — you want to stay with him because you feel like he’s close enough that he can take off,” Cora said.
Their time as teammates in 2005 with the Cleveland Indians may have been short, but when Cora saw the Yankees’ CC Sabathia record his 3,000th strikeout on Tuesday night, the milestone made him smile.
“You’ve got to be consistent, you’ve got to be good,” Cora said. “He reinvented himself a few years ago. It’s a guy that used to throw very hard and now it’s cutters and sliders and pitches to the edges. He was a great teammate in Cleveland and you see him over the years, he’s a very likable guy. Very intense on the mound.
“Happy that he did it. It was a cool moment. I was watching the game, it was a cool moment. When there’s milestones like that — no matter who you play, that’s for the fans all the rivalry and stuff — it’s cool to see.”
Tyler Thornburg struggled in another low-leverage situation, giving up two runs on three hits after taking the mound to start the ninth with a 7-1 lead.
Thornburg gave up back-to-back doubles to Matt Chapman and Khris Davis to start the inning. Both came on his curveball.
“There’s inconsistency with his breaking ball,” Cora said. “He threw some good fastballs. The breaking ball wasn’t great today. So, we’ll keep working with him. This is a guy we know, stuff-wise, is up there, he’s not getting people out. But we’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep working with him and get it straight.”