In mere hours, Dustin Pedroia will be back with the Boston Red Sox.

Prior to the Sox’s series finale with the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, manager Alex Cora said that the second baseman will be activated from the disabled list Friday, in time for the Sox’s series opener at Fenway Park against the Atlanta Braves. He will start either Friday or Saturday.

Pedroia has been a staple in the Sox lineup for over a decade, and has spent the spring working his way back from offseason cartilage restoration surgery in his knee. When Pedroia is activated Friday, it will mark exactly seven months since he underwent the procedure.

In five games rehabbing with Triple-A Pawtucket since departing extended spring training, the 34-year-old has been sharp defensively, but has struggled at the dish as he worked to get his timing back down. He hit went 1-for-14, good for a .071 average.

More promising, however, is how his knee has responded to playing with some regularity. Less than 14 hours after playing seven innings for the PawSox on Wednesday, Pedroia started and played seven more innings in a 11:05 matinee Thursday morning.

Cora also indicated that utility men Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez won’t fall victim to the corresponding roster move upon Pedroia’s return, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

It is worth noting that during a radio interview Wednesday, Cora also said Jackie Bradley Jr., who though slumping has begun to find his swing, won’t be sent down to Triple-A, even though he has one more minor league option.

That leaves Blake Swihart as the odd man out, especially since he has no further minor league options nor is seldom used by Cora. Should he, in fact, be on the outside looking in, Swihart would have to be either traded or designated for assignment, the latter meaning Boston could lose him for nothing via waivers.

While the impending roster shuffling leaves room for speculation over the coming hours, it appears an already solid and well-rounded Red Sox squad is about to get even stronger.

Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images