Red Sox

Red Sox' handling of Dustin Pedroia early in season open to criticism

Red Sox' handling of Dustin Pedroia early in season open to criticism

NEW YORK -- Dustin Pedroia has one of the best excuses imaginable for hitting .105. He's basically playing for the first time in two years.

The Red Sox, however, might have some explaining to do.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski provided conflicting viewpoints on the second baseman Tuesday, noting that he's exactly where the Red Sox expected him to be in his return from serious knee issues, but disputing that he could've benefited from more than three rehab outings.

Pedroia is just 2-for-19 after five games as he tries to regain his timing at the plate.

"He's not there from an offensive perspective, but guys don't miss two years and come back and swing the bat like they're an All-Star at that point, so he's going to take some time to find his timing," Dombrowski said.

"It's about exactly where they said he'd be," Dombrowski added.

If that's the case, Dombrowski was asked, why didn't Pedroia spend more time at Triple-A? He could've rehabbed for up to 30 days there so he was better prepared for life in the major leagues.

"He felt he was ready to go," Dombrowski said. "To stretch this out over a lengthy period, it would take a long time period to get through the whole time. He's not going to be ready to play -- which we've said along -- every day, for a lengthy period. So we're willing to deal with the situation."

Pedroia's inability to play every day hurt the team on Monday, when he shifted from second base to DH before an 8-1 loss to the Orioles, necessitating the debut of catcher Christian Vazquez at second.

The decision was hardly Pedroia's fault. He's coming back from cartilage restoration surgery on his left knee that limited him to only three games last year. He won't be playing every day for the foreseeable future.

"He's working on it," Dombrowski said. "He's hit some balls decently. He played second base great the other day turning the double plays. It's still a situation where only time will tell, because, the real key for Dustin is going to be when he plays days in a row. Part of the plan is not at that point yet. As time goes on, it's apparent he can handle short term. We're very happy and the doctors are very happy and he's very happy with it. But we can't run him out there right now for a week at a time. 

"That's just not good for his knee. We know that. Unfortunately, we've dealt with some minor injuries with some guys, so we've had to fit some pieces together there, but he's making strides, he's coming along the way the doctors have said. I'm not ready to make any proclamations that we're through this at this time. We still have a way to go."

Maybe a longer rehab stint would've benefited everyone.

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Don't look now, but Red Sox are finally making a case to join the class of the American League

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Don't look now, but Red Sox are finally making a case to join the class of the American League

Now we're talking.

Sweeping the Royals before losing five of six to the Rays and Texas told us nothing. Sweeping the Orioles after salvaging a split with the Rangers suggested cautious optimism.

But after taking two of three from the American League-leading Twins to run their overall streak to seven wins in eight games, it's fair to say that the Red Sox are ba--.

They're ba--. They're BA--. They're …

No need to get ahead of ourselves declaring them back. Let's just accept that they're playing much better baseball at a point in the season where they can make up legitimate ground in the AL East before entering the All-Star break feeling a lot better about their chances of contending than they did even two weeks ago.

"It's been a topic of everybody," manager Alex Cora told reporters in Minnesota following a 9-4 victory over the Twins. "It's a team, they've got forty-whatever wins, and the best record in the American League [48-25]. We came here and yesterday we played a great game, we bounced back today, we won the first one.

"They have a good team, but we do, too. We're playing a lot better lately. Now we go home. We know we've got to play better at home. That's the next step, the next challenge. We've got six games [homestand], so go over there and start dominating at Fenway."

The Red Sox can talk about dominating with a straight face because they finally claimed a series against a good team after a series of misfires. The Twins began the night with a 10-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central, but they ran into a Red Sox squad determined to remind everyone it's actually better.

After taking the opener Monday with a crisp 2-0 victory behind Rick Porcello and just enough offense, the Red Sox dropped the follow-up Tuesday in 17 innings. Cora insisted that the team would bounce back in much the same way it did after losing Game 3 of the World Series in 18 innings, earning some criticism for believing his own propaganda.

But just as the Red Sox returned to Dodger Stadium the next night and claimed Game 4 before closing out the series on enemy soil, on Wednesday they hammered Minnesota pitching for nine runs, pulling away after blowing a 3-2 lead.

"I don't know. We had a tough time the first night because [Jose] Berrios, he's a good pitcher, but we won the game," infielder Brock Holt told reporters. "Last night, you start playing that many innings, guys maybe get a little antsy to try to do a little bit too much. And then tonight we tried to focus.  

"I feel like our situational hitting was pretty solid tonight. When we got a guy on third, we got him in, for the most part. It's just better approaches tonight, I think guys kind of didn't try to do too much, and we just tried to get those extra runs in when we had a chance."

After going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, the Red Sox bounced back in a big way, going 7-for-14 and driving Twins starter Kyle Gibson from the game in the fifth after working him for seven hits and five walks.

"We knew last night was rough for us," Holt told reporters. "We had opportunities to score last night in multiple innings and we didn't, to win games you've got to score when you have chances and tonight we were able to do that. So that's something that we probably haven't done as good as we should this year, so it's just something we need to focus on putting together better at-bats with runners in scoring position."

With the Yankees hammering the Rays to complete a sweep, the Red Sox actually ended up losing a game in the standings to New York this week and trail in the division by 6.5 games, but they pulled within three games of Tampa Bay for second place.

They now host the lowly Blue Jays and middling White Sox for six games before jetting to England for a two-game set vs. the Yankees.

It may be too soon to say they're officially back, but at least they're finally rolling.

"Yeah, it was good, especially after last night's game, we could have come in and kind of been dragging today, but to come out tonight and take two of three from a good team over there, a good road trip for us," Holt said. "We're excited about the off day tomorrow, get some guys some breaks and get back out there."

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Devers day-to-day with hamstring injury after early exit

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Devers day-to-day with hamstring injury after early exit

Rafael Devers has been one of the Red Sox' most consistent hitters this season, but they may be without him for a little bit.

Devers left the 9-4 victory over the Twins in the fourth inning with right hamstring tightness. After the game, manager Alex Cora said that Devers is "day-to-day" and they would probably stay away from him Friday when the Sox return home to open a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays after an off day Thursday.

Devers, 22, went 2-for-3 on Wednesday before leaving to raise his batting average to .307. The left-handed hitting third baseman has 12 homers and is second on the team with 47 RBI. 

Devers was on the injured list three times last season, including twice with a left hamstring issue. Eduardo Nunez took over at third Wednesday and the Sox also have utility men Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez who can play third.

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