Dustin Pedroia isn’t someone who needs extra motivation, but Steven Wright’s success with the Boston Red Sox this season deserves the second baseman’s attention.
That’s because Wright, like Pedroia, is coming off major knee surgery. And while there are differences between each player’s rehab, there still are some lessons Pedroia can learn from Wright’s successful recovery as he deals with inflammation that forced him back on the disabled list.
Wright outlined some of those lessons recently while chatting with WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the “Bradfo Show” podcast.
“Obviously, it’s different than Pedroia because he’s an everyday player. But when you have those opportunities to have a day off, you have to really utilize them to get that knee some time to heal,” Wright told Bradford, as transcribed on WEEI.com. “It’s just a different way of going about your day-to-day basis. I would say for me (the frustration peaked) probably around when I was getting close to the 10-, 11-, 12-month mark. Those three months toward the end. I was feeling good. I was throwing. But it didn’t feel quite right.
“For me, I lost that energy to keep working. Because it was like, dude, I would work really hard and then I would have a setback. So it was like, I can’t work as hard as I want to so now it’s not so much about working hard as it is working smart. Taking days off when you can. Not doing anything impactful.”
Wright made his first start of the season Tuesday night after six relief appearances. He surrendered just two hits over seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 1.57.
There’s no guarantee Wright sticks in the rotation, although Drew Pomeranz’s ineffectiveness and current DL stint opens the door for the 33-year-old knuckleballer. But he’s looked like the pitcher who earned an All-Star selection in 2016, which is encouraging given the tumultuous road back from the knee surgery he underwent in May 2017.
“One day I would come in and I was like, ‘I’m not far away.’ And then two days later I could barely walk,” Wright told Bradford. “It got to the point where I was like, ‘Man, I don’t know if I want to live the rest of my life like this.’ You work your butt off for four straight days to throw one day and then you can’t walk. It just got to the point where I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’
“But then getting it drained, getting the PRP shots and really just trusting the medical staff that it’s just another hurdle. Talking to the doctor who did the surgery, that’s where the majority of issues athletes have coming back is right before you get ready to play because it’s still not going to feel quite right. It’s just a matter of getting it good enough where you can actually compete. And eventually, it got to that point.”
Pedroia underwent his own knee surgery in October and returned May 31. The 34-year-old played in four games, going 1-for-11, before landing back on the DL.
It’s unclear at this point when exactly Pedroia will be healthy enough to rejoin the Red Sox, but Wright’s successful recovery and subsequent success suggest it’s best to be patient and not push too hard. Good things come to those who wait, and Pedroia could make a sizable impact at some point this season if he heeds Wright’s advice.
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