FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was only a matter of time before Dustin Pedroia came around this spring.
Pedroia, who entered Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Twins hitting just .105 (2-for-19) in seven spring training contests, showed plenty of offensive improvement in the Boston Red Sox’s 4-3 victory at Hammond Stadium.
Pedroia went 2-for-3 batting out of the No. 3 spot in the Red Sox’s lineup. He singled into center field in the third inning, and then delivered a go-ahead, two-run double in the fifth inning that proved to be the difference. The only time Pedroia was retired was in the first inning, when the four-time All-Star put good wood on a fly ball to center fielder Aaron Hicks.
“Today was the best I’ve felt all spring,” Pedroia said Thursday. “I didn’t feel like I was fighting myself. That’s a good thing. I’ve got to keep building on it.”
Pedroia’s slow start to spring training was no reason for the Red Sox to panic. It was an interesting side story, though, given that Pedroia is entering this season on the heels of offseason thumb surgery.
Pedroia, of course, suffered his thumb injury last season while diving head-first into first base on Opening Day against the New York Yankees. Pedroia then slugged his fewest home runs (nine) since 2007 despite batting .301 and compiling 193 hits.
There wasn’t much of a drop-off in performance in 2013 — other than the dip in power — so any concern surrounding the second baseman was minimal. However, the Red Sox are hoping that a surgically repaired thumb could lead to both average and pop this season, and Thursday’s effort showed Pedroia might not be too far off when it comes to getting his timing down.
“He stayed behind the ball a little bit better today (and) wasn’t as jumpy,” manager John Farrell said after Thursday’s win. “He used his hands much more freely. That’s more reminiscent of what we’re used to seeing with Dustin. A lot of times when you get 20 at-bats, 25 at-bats (in spring training) that timing starts to come, and that’s the case with Dustin.”
Farrell even said before Thursday’s contest that he already had begun to see better bat speed and more aggressiveness through the strike zone from Pedroia during recent games and batting practices.