Red Sox

Dave Dombrowski cautiously optimistic on Dustin Pedroia, hopeful he’ll be ‘the main guy’ at second base

Dave Dombrowski cautiously optimistic on Dustin Pedroia, hopeful he’ll be ‘the main guy’ at second base

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With so much focus on the Red Sox bullpen situation as spring training gets underway, it’s easy to forget about the question mark that lies at second base.

Besides last year, second base hasn’t been a position where the Red Sox are used to having question marks. Dustin Pedroia’s presence usually would be the last thing to worry about heading into a new season. But with the 13-year veteran playing in only three games in 2018 due to a nagging knee injury, his health will be closely monitored in the days leading up to Opening Day and for many days after.

Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski provided an update on Pedroia, who he says is expected to report to camp within the next day or two.

“[Pedroia] says he feels good,” Dombrowski said Wednesday at JetBlue Park. “My answer really hasn’t changed throughout the wintertime. He feels good, our medical reports on him are good. Until he gets here day in and day out will we get the chance to see — I don’t think that it’s one day, it’s probably a matter of the build-up, of the pounding on a daily basis and how he handles it.”

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As for Pedroia’s workload for the regular season, Dombrowski seems cautiously optimistic. The plan is for Pedroia to be the primary second baseman, with a number of other players stepping in to take the load off his shoulders (and his knee).

“We’re still not looking at a 150-game player,” Dombrowski said. “We’re hopeful that he’s a 125-game player at this point. We do feel we have some people who are solid and can fill in. To fill in if [Pedroia] plays 120, guys like [Brock] Holt, a guy like [Eduardo] Nuñez coming over there. Even some depth with Tzu-Wei Lin in our organization we like a great deal. They are also capable of playing more games, that combination. But we’re hopeful that Pedey will be the guy. The main guy.”

Such optimism could indicate Pedroia’s road to recovery is going as smoothly as the team could have hoped for. Of course, when dealing with a player like Pedroia who’s undoubtedly anxious to return to action, there comes a risk of rushing into things which could be counterproductive from a recovery standpoint.

Dombrowski was asked about saving Pedroia from himself. In other words, making sure he doesn’t try to go full speed ahead when he really should be easing back into the grind.

“Well, we discuss it all the time so sure, we have to watch him,” Dombrowski said. “I think, I can’t tell you because I haven’t been around him day in and day out in the winter time, but Pedey’s always driven, he always wants to get out there, but we have already had conversations that we can’t let him push beyond what he’s supposed to do from a medical perspective day in and day out, so we’ll have a program for him. It’ll be very important that he follows it. We’ll talk to him on a daily basis from a medical perspective.”

“He’s had a lot of surgeries, he’s worked really hard,” Dombrowski continued. “I do think that the reality — I think the good communication with people on a consistent basis, Alex [Cora] with him is really good. Alex and he have a great relationship together. They’ve been together for years. So I do think it’s better, but I can’t tell you 100 percent. We just have to be careful in that regard.”

When it comes to Pedroia staying patient as he aims to retain his role as the starting Red Sox second baseman, Chris Sale believes that’s an area Pedroia could use some improvement.

“Ah, man, I think he’s still working on patience,” Sale joked on Wednesday. “He’s one of those guys you can never rule out. I dare you to rule him out, actually. Because he’s out to prove a point this year, and that’s a scary thought.”

Sale is right. Ruling out a former MVP — especially one with Pedroia’s determination — would be foolish. But if everything is to go according to plan with Pedroia and the second base position in 2019, patience will be a virtue.

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Tony La Russa hired by Angels after two seasons with Red Sox

Tony La Russa hired by Angels after two seasons with Red Sox

After spending the last two seasons as ex-Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski's assistant, Tony La Russa is headed out west.

The Los Angeles Angels announced Tuesday they've hired La Russa as their Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations.

La Russa's exit from Boston adds to what's been a complete overhaul of the front office following the firing of Dombrowski. Former Tampa Bay Rays Senior VP of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom was hired last month to replace Dombrowski with the new title of "Chief Baseball Officer."

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Report: There is 'great skepticism' teams will pay up for Mookie Betts

Report: There is 'great skepticism' teams will pay up for Mookie Betts

The No. 1 Red Sox offseason storyline to keep tabs on this winter is their difficult situation with Mookie Betts.

Betts will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season if he and the Red Sox fail to agree on a contract extension before then. With Boston looking to shed payroll and J.D. Martinez opting into his contract, there's plenty of speculation the superstar right fielder could be traded for a package of top prospects.

But according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, there's some doubt that teams interested in Betts will be willing to giving up the farm for one year of the 2018 American League MVP.

Needless to say, new Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has his work cut out for him.

That work begins this week at the GM meetings in Arizona, where Bloom and the rest of the Red Sox brass aims to get some clarity on which direction the organization is heading for 2020 and beyond. That process, of course, begins with Betts.

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