Dustin Pedroia Heating Up as He Gets Healthier

Dustin Pedroia Heating Up as He Gets Healthier It’s not as if Red Sox manager Terry Francona made anybody feel bad for asking if Dustin Pedroia was going to be OK as the second baseman struggled through a prolonged slump.

But the skipper did, at times, make reporters know that the answer was obvious.

Pedroia would hit, don’t you worry.

"If we’re looking up [at our team] and thinking Pedroia’s not hitting," Francona said recently during one such question-and-answer session, "that’s low on the list."

The one caveat, according to Francona, was if Pedroia’s troublesome right knee became something serious. When a recent MRI showed no structural damage, perhaps Pedroia, and his skipper, could breathe a sigh of relief.

"I thought I was messed up there for awhile," Pedroia said after going 2-for-3 with three runs scored in Tuesday’s 6-3 win over Arizona. "I was having trouble walking up stairs. That kinda worried me. But my legs are like three inches, that was probably the problem.

"I’m getting better. I’ll be fine."

If the test results didn’t yield a sense of calm, then the results on the field have, as evidenced by the resurgence in Pedroia’s self-deprecating wit. The 26-year-old has put together his best offensive stretch in over a month, going 10-for-20 (.500) over his last five games (all but one since the MRI). He has an RBI in four of the five games and has now doubled in four straight.

Francona was asked again after Tuesday’s performance what it was like to see his second baseman show signs of turning things around.

"Pedey went through a dry spell, and that happens from time to time," Francona said. "He’ll get just as hot as he’s starting to do right now. I think Pedey’s health was a big thing. I think when he got his knee checked, it was a good thing for him mentally."

With a mental hurdle cleared, Pedroia has been able to achieve the balance at the plate he so desires, no longer worried about putting too much pressure on his back leg. The 2008 American League MVP said he was lunging too often and not staying back on the ball.

The result was an unlikely stream of strikeouts.

After striking out just 52 times during his MVP campaign and reducing that number to 45 last year, Pedroia entered Tuesday’s play with 30, a pace that would give him 73 if he played 154 games as he did in 2009.

But as the hits have started to return, the Ks have gone away — including Tuesday, Pedroia had whiffed just twice in his last 28 at bats.

"I was just trying to hit the ball and I was striking out quite a bit," Pedroia said of the uncertain time when the knee was really barking. "I was lunging out to hit the ball, which is really not part of my game."

Pedey’s game looks a little more like what we saw Tuesday.

After reaching on a hit batter and scoring the Red Sox’ first run on David Ortiz’s two-run homer, Pedroia showcased his vintage self with a hard double down the third-base line in the third, making it 3-1 Boston.

After the Sox saw an eventual four-run lead trimmed to two, Pedroia led off the sixth with a sharp single to right and came in on a double by Kevin Youkilis.

Pedroia had scored three of the team’s six runs, hit the ball hard three times (his only out was a well-hit fly ball to center) and took one more step toward becoming the All-Star second baseman the team has come to expect.

Like there was ever a doubt.

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