Second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be activated from the disabled list on Friday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters in St. Petersburg before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Pedroia, 34, will make his 2018 Red Sox debut Friday or Saturday against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park, Cora said.
The four-time All-Star and 2008 AL MVP had knee surgery in October and has been rehabbing throughout spring training and went 1-for-14 in a five-game stint with the Pawtucket Red Sox, which ended Thursday when he went 0-for-3 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Knee problems limited Pedroia to 97 games at second base last season, when he hit. 293.
The Red Sox will have to make a roster move to make room for Pedroia. Cora didn't say what that would be but speculation has centered on former catching prospect Blake Swihart, 23, who is out of minor league options and could be designated for assignment or traded after hitting .133 in 17 games (30 at-bats) this season.
Steven Wright has made it an easy decision for Alex Cora when the injured Drew Pomeranz returns from the disabled list.
When Pomeranz went down with biceps tendinitis on June 5, Wright immediately stepped up in his spot throwing seven shutout innings vs the Tigers. That proved to be no fluke, as the knuckleballer followed up with another scoreless outing in 6.2 innings pitched vs the Orioles.
Then on Saturday in Seattle, Wright put the exclamation point on his case to take over for Pomeranz in the rotation for the foreseeable future. The right-hander's scoreless streak reached 24.2 innings before the Mariners were able to scratch across a run in the third. That would be the only run scored against Wright in the game, as the 2016 All-Star again threw seven strong innings.
In eight starts this season, Pomeranz hasn't made it to the seven-inning mark. In 2017, he did so only once in 32 starts. The left-hander's inability to go deep in games has made him the odd man out in the rotation at least until another starter goes down, or Wright begins to show signs of inconsistency.
Besides, Pomeranz has had success as a reliever in the past. He thrived in the role in 2014 and 2015 with Oakland. It makes more sense to have him as an added lefty in the bullpen, rather than use a knuckleball pitcher in relief.
Wright shouldn't be expected to keep up this kind of pace. But he has once again earned himself a starting role, for as long as he can provide some much-needed stability at the back end of the rotation.
With a number of top-round Red Sox draft picks beginning to ink deals, including first-round pick Triston Casas of American Heritage High (Fla.), a friendly reminder that Boston's farm could use some serious infusion of life.
The top-ranked prospects in the Red Sox' minor league system are. . . how do we say this politely? Underperforming . . .
(Stats as of late last week.)