Dustin Pedroia was admittedly very excited before he returned to action Tuesday night at Fenway Park. But knowing he will not be 100 percent and will be facing one of the best pitchers in the American League, Pedroia was quick to temper the enthusiasm.
"I'm just one of the guys," Pedroia said. "I don't think anybody's thinking, 'Oh Dustin's back, we're gonna win every single game.' I'm just one of the guys helping us win. Everyone is valued the same on our team. We've got a lot of guys that mean a lot to our team. Hopefully I can give us another boost to win some games."
Pedroia, who turned 27 on the day of his return, is in his usual spot in the lineup, batting and playing second. But he is realistic that it might take some time to get back into the swing of things.
One reason for that is Tuesday's starter for the Angels, Jered Weaver, who leads the AL in strikeouts (182) and ranks third in WHIP (1.08). Pedroia is 3-for-13 (.231) with three strikeouts against the right-hander and had only one at-bat vs. a righty during his two-game rehab stint in Pawtucket.
"It's a little bit different facing one right-hander in two months and then facing Jered Weaver," Pedroia said. "He's leading the league in strikeouts. I'll get in there and do the best I can."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Pedroia's workload will be taken on a day-to-day basis. If he needs a day off from time to time, he will get it.
However, Francona does not expect Pedroia to tell him.
"We'll keep an eye on him. That in itself won't be the easiest thing," Francona said. "We hope he does lie [about his condition]. That's what good players do."
Pedroia broke his left foot fouling a ball off it on June 25. He hoped to return in six weeks but needed some extra time to get to the point where he could run at full speed.
Once he was able to do that he has had to work on his timing, both at the plate and in the field. In part due to the fact that he will be facing a guy like Weaver in his first game since the injury, that timing may not come back right away.
Essentially, his assimilation will take place on the fly.
"I'll figure it out when I'm out there," Pedroia said when asked how well he will be able to perform.
Even if Pedroia takes some time to find his rhythm, he is expected to provide a boost with his presence alone.
That alone is good enough for Francona.
"He'll figure out a way to help us win games. That's kinda why he's back," Francona said.
When asked if making his return at Fenway meant anything, Pedroia first took the high road, talking about how he just wants to help the team win, no matter where they play. When pressed on it, he confessed to some excitement and some butterflies.
Pedroia even went so far as to say it felt like the first day of the season.
If that's the case, maybe his impact will be more immediate than he suggests — he was 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs in a 9-7 win over the New York Yankees on Opening Night.
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