Dustin Pedroia always has been confident — cocky, even — about his abilities on the diamond.

The last two years really have tested the Boston Red Sox second baseman both mentally and physically, though, to the point where he’s far less boisterous and much more reserved but still very much driven to prove his doubters wrong.

“I know what I need to do,” Pedroia told WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the “Bradfo Sho” podcast on Tuesday. “We’ll see.”

Pedroia, now 36, was limited to just nine games the past two seasons due to a left knee injury he initially sustained when Manny Machado slid into his leg at second base in April 2017. He took an indefinite leave from the Red Sox this past May, even acknowledging at the time he wasn’t sure whether his career was over. Thus, it came as somewhat of a surprise Monday when Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Pedroia has given “every indication” he plans to play in 2020.

“The doctor was very pleased, he said this joint will last a while,” Pedroia told Bradford, referencing a late-August checkup he had with his surgeon. “Obviously, I’m going to need to get a knee replacement and all that, but he was very surprised with how everything’s responded. That set off in my mind … the ultimate goal is to finish what I started. We’ll see.”

Pedroia will be the first to admit he has “a long way to go” in his rehab, so any talk of him returning to an everyday role, let alone contributing at an All-Star-caliber level, is premature, to say the least. But retirement sure seemed like the most likely scenario just a few months ago. Now, Pedroia is continuing on with a new mindset and not ruling out an eventual comeback, even though he’s remaining cautious with his optimism.

“I spent two years saying I was going to come back and kick everybody’s ass and then I played nine games,” Pedroia told Bradford. “It is what it is. … You have to find a way to deal with it the best way you can. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m going to come back and be better than ever. Could I? Maybe. I don’t put it past anybody. It’s one step at a time. I’m not looking at the big picture.”

Basically, Pedroia refuses to put the cart before the horse. But things are trending in the right direction. Finally.

Click for Pedroia’s full interview with Bradford >>

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images