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Tek to return with PawSox on Sunday

09.04.10 at 5:42 pm ET
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For the first time since breaking a bone in his right foot in late June, Jason Varitek has been cleared to return to game action.

The team announced following Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the White Sox that Varitek will catch four-to-five innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday at McCoy Stadium.

Varitek will then DH for the PawSox in their season finale on Monday afternoon before a possible return to the Red Sox active roster on Tuesday. Varitek met with team doctors on Saturday to get final clearance to return to game action.

Earlier Saturday, manager Terry Francona said the team captain could be nearing a return to game action following a meeting Saturday with doctors. Varitek has been out of action with a broken foot since taking a Carl Crawford foul ball off his right foot on June 30 against Tampa Bay.

“He’s going to meet with the medical people and doctors today,” Francona said. “We’ll see what they’ll allow him to do. Hopefully, he’ll be able to go play, we’ll see. I know time is running out for the Triple-A guys so today is an important day and important meeting for him.”

The Triple-A PawSox conclude their season with a pair of home games Sunday and Monday at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket against Syracuse.

Read More: Jason Varitek, MLB, PawSox, Pawtucket Red Sox

Closing Time: White Sox 3, Red Sox 1

09.04.10 at 4:00 pm ET
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On a day when Clay Buchholz did not have his best stuff, counterpart John Danks of the White Sox did. Buchholz was run out of the game after just five innings, his pitch count elevated to 95. Though he yielded just a pair of runs, it was not enough on a day when Boston could manage just a single run in seven innings against Danks, the 25-year-old who has quietly emerged as one of the best left-handers in the league.

The Red Sox dropped a 3-1 decision to Chicago in the first contest of the day-night double-header, moving them 7 1/2 games behind the Rays in the wild card. No team in baseball history has ever come back from a Sept. deficit of more than seven games.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Clay Buchholz saw his longshot Cy Young candidacy take a shot. Though he held the White Sox to two runs, he went just five innings, and was pulled after 95 pitches in favor of Scott Atchison.

That brought to an end his streak of seven straight quality starts, the longest by a Red Sox pitcher this season.

David Ortiz continued his struggles, particularly against left-handed pitchers. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including an 0-for-3 performance with two punchouts against White Sox southpaw Jordan Danks. Since. Aug. 21, Ortiz is 1-for-18 with a double and eight strikeouts against left-handers. Overall, Ortiz has now gone 13 games without a homer, hitting .192/.250/.308/.558 with 16 strikeouts in 52 at-bats.

Bill Hall‘s strikeout problem recurred at a critical time. After falling behind, 1-0, in the top of he second inning, the Red Sox loaded with bases with one out in the bottom of the inning. But Hall struck out on three straight pitches. Since his last walk on July 28, he has struck out 28 times in 82 plate appearances.

Though Hall did go on to have two singles (one of which plated the only Red Sox run of the day), he also struck out once more. He is on pace to become one of the most prolific strikeout machines in team history. Hall has 89 strikeouts in 312 plate appearances this year.

Hall has a good chance of finishing second in team history for the fewest plate appearances ever by a player to reach 100 whiffs, with only Mark Bellhorn (who fanned 109 times in 335 plate appearances in 2005) likely to prevent Hall from taking the title.

–The Red Sox mustered little with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-8 in such circumstances.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Jed Lowrie had a solid day at the plate and in the field, going 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. He also was part of three double plays that the team turned, delivering a strong pivot on two of them and initiating the third.

Dustin Richardson inherited a two-on, one-out jam and worked his way out of it in the seventh inning. Though he went to three-ball counts against both batters he faced, he came back to punch out Juan Pierre and then get an inning-ending groundout.

Pedroia to Tito: I was a ‘moron’

09.04.10 at 2:45 pm ET
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According to Red Sox manager Terry Francona, it was a fitful and uneasy night for Dustin Pedroia following very successful surgery on his healing left foot.

But at least his sense of humor is still in tact.

“He actually sent me a picture on his [cell] phone before he went into surgery. He took a picture of himself. He called himself a moron, which I agree with. Then [wife] Kelli called me, which I appreciated and he actually called me a little bit later. Then he actually called me a little bit later and sounded good.

“Then from what I understand, like a lot of people, he got a little nauseous, you know, it happens,” Francona said. “He went home and had a long night, but talked to him this morning and he sounded pretty upbeat. It sounds like, I’€™m sure Dr. [George] Theodore will have a report for you guys, but it sounded really encouraging from everything.

“From when they went in and saw the amount of healing, that it was in a line. It just sounded really optimistic. So that was good to hear. Certainly rather hear that than have them come out and say, ‘Oh boy, this isn’€™t what we thought it was going to be and things like that.'”

Perhaps most encouraging was the news that come Dec. 1 or thereabouts, Pedroia should be just about on track for a normal offseason conditioning program.

‘€œThat was a big reason why they did it [Friday],” Francona said. “That will give him, whatever the timetable is, four-to-six weeks with crutches, that’€™s basically what, three months? That gets Dec. 1, right? That’€™s basically when guys, and I know Pedey works before that, but that’€™s really when the winter program kind of starts, so yeah, he should have pretty much a normal winter, which should be terrific.”

In short, Francona said there’s reason to think Pedroia will make a full and complete recovery from Friday’s procedure to put a pin in his left foot to help heal the broken bone.

“It sounded really encouraging,” Francona said. “When they went in and saw the amount of healing and that it was in a line, it just sounded really optimistic so that was good to hear. Certainly, we’re glad to hear that have [doctors] come out and say, ‘Oh boy, this isn’t what we thought it was going to be.'”

After the Chicago White Sox were awarded Manny Ramirez this week on a straight waiver claim from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the slugger gets another chance to return to Fenway Park this weekend for a three-game series.

Asked if he thinks Ramirez can make an impact on the American League Central race, Francona sounded hopeful his team could get the job done like they did in June when Manny came back in Dodger blue.

“I hope not this weekend,” Francona said. The question was asked by New York Daily News sports writer Roger Rubin toward the end of Saturday’s briefing with reporters. Francona added, “You came all the way up here for that?”

The White Sox enter Saturday’s doubleheader with a 73-60 mark, four games behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.

Read More: Dodgers, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez

Youkilis revisits end of Manny Era in Boston

09.04.10 at 1:36 pm ET
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Yes, Kevin Youkilis said, Manny Ramirez did offer him an apology on first base in June, when he was at Fenway Park as a member of the Dodgers, something that Ramirez brought up during his comments to the media on Friday. But, Youkilis said, the fact that his former teammate asked for forgiveness about an incident in June 2008 (when Ramirez and Youkilis tussled in the dugout after the left-fielder slapped his teammate in the head) was no earth-shattering event, nor even necessary.

“This is like, way old news, guys,” Youkilis informed a group of reporters that approached him. “Yeah, he did apologize. That was a long time ago. That was old news. I know you guys are going to make a lot about it.

“I think if there’€™s something on his back and shoulders that he wanted to get out, that’€™s a good thing he said. Maybe he had something and felt bad. I don’€™t know exactly all he said. Hopefully that will kind of take something off his shoulders.”

Youkilis also said that the apology offered by Ramirez in June “wasn’t the first one” that the slugger had offered him. By that series, there was no ill will remaining between the two.

“That wasn’€™t the first [apology],” said Youkilis. “It is what it is. Manny and I were cool after that anyways. It wasn’€™t a big deal. Things happen. For me, it was just one of those things, off the bat, I said, ‘€˜Manny, no worries, man.’€™”

While Youkilis harbors no ill will about the incident, it did represent a turning point in Ramirez’ eight-year Red Sox tenure. It was the first of several disconcerting acts by the left-fielder that seemed calculated to force his way out of Boston.

Ultimately, Ramirez achieved that goal. He was traded that July 31 in part of a three-team deal that netted the Sox Jason Bay. Both Ramirez’ Dodgers and the post-Ramirez Sox advanced to the League Championship Series of their respective leagues, but both fell just short of the World Series.

Youkilis could not say whether or not the Sox would have gone further with Ramirez. Bay, after all, was a force after coming from the Pirates.

Youkilis admitted uncertainty about whether the Sox would have remained a better team in 2008 with Ramirez than without him. That said, while he admitted that he and his teammates experienced frustration and disappointment in the wake of Ramirez’ departure, he felt no anger towards his former teammate.

“To say I was angry at Manny, no. It was disappointing that he wanted to leave,” said Youkilis. “We wanted to win another World Series. On the other hand, it was a great thing, too, because Jason Bay came here, had a great year, did a lot for us, too, so you can’€™t be too mad.

“I think guys were frustrated because they didn’€™t understand why he wanted to leave,” he added. “It happened, it was over with. Manny went to another team and did great for that other team. Like I said, we got Jason Bay in here and he did great for us.

“Would we have won a World Series with Manny? I don’€™t know. We didn’€™t win one with the team we had. This year, what I’€™ve seen is one player doesn’€™t make or break your season. One player doesn’€™t win the World Series by himself.

“At that time, he wanted to leave, so it was mainly if he was going to leave and get traded. We wanted closure on the fact that if he was going to stay here and be a part of this team or if he was going to go somewhere else. That’€™s I think how it always is around the trade deadline, and you hear the rumors and all the stuff going on, guys are going to be traded, you just want closure.

And after July 31st, that’€™s what usually happens. Teams start getting hot because you’€™ve got closure, these are your guys, you’€™re playing with these guys and you go on and move on, whether it be a pitcher, position player or whatever, you just move on and play. I think that’€™s what happened that year, too. Jason Bay came in and we knew what team we had.”

Read More: Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez,

Ortiz: Manny’s comments ‘made me really happy’

09.04.10 at 11:39 am ET
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Speaking before the first game of the Red Sox‘ doubleheader with the White Sox, David Ortiz said that the statement by Manny Ramirez Friday, saying he took responsibility for his problems with the Sox, pleased the designated hitter. Ortiz explained that the mea culpa suggested that Ramirez has “tried to figure some things out.”

“It made me really happy,” said Ortiz of Ramirez’ quotes to a group of reporters Friday afternoon. “Manny and I are friends and we shared a lot of time together. Me and Manny, we never had any kind of problems because I understand the way he was and I never had any kind of problem with that.”

Asked if if was surprised that Ramirez admitted that the problems he faced in his final days in Boston were the White Sox’ slugger’s fault, Ortiz said it didn’t totally catch him off guard.

“Manny has been gone for a few years and I’ve been hearing things that that he has been doing and it’s great because he’s trying to figure things out, trying to find himself,” Ortiz said. “That made me really really happy because Manny is a good person and isn’t a bad guy. He’s just a person who had a lot of things going on in his mind and he wouldn’t focus on one of them. Now he’s focusing on things better. He’s trying to slow things down. I hear that he’s getting closer to God and doing things like that, and that’s the best thing that could ever happen to him.

“It seems like, one, he had a lot of things going on at the time, and two, he finally realized that we aren’t the only one. It doesn’t matter how good we are at things we have people around us that count on us. We have to make the feel important just like they make us feel important. I’m not saying he’s bad about that, but sometimes he forgot about that. Sometimes he got caught up in the situation where the people around us are important too. We’re human. We’re not perfect. We all do things where we think we’re doing the right thing and sometimes it ain’t. The most important thing is that the real man is the one who is recognizing when you’re doing wrong, and he recognized that.

“I’m happy for him because he’s showing to people, and that makes me even happier because I know that I wasn’t wrong [about him]. Manny’s a hard guy to read. The thing is that he admitted it in public. He’s not saying it to one guy. He told everybody what he feels like, and that’s important.”

What did take Ortiz somewhat by surprise was the slugger’s assertion that he would welcome a return to Boston.

“Last time he played here I thought that was it,” said Ortiz, who hadn’t talked to Ramirez since he was in town with the Dodgers in June. “When I heard he said that, that surprised me. Sometimes you think going somewhere else is going to make you happy, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. He went out there for a few years and things might not be what he expected. Maybe he found out that this is the place to be.”

For more Red Sox coverage go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Lowell has a non-displaced rib fracture

09.04.10 at 11:16 am ET
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After undergoing an MRI and CT scan Friday, it was been determined that Mike Lowell has a non-displaced fracture in one of his ribs. The injury, which doctors tell him shouldn’t prevent the first baseman from playing, was suffered in the third inning of the Red Sox‘ Aug. 20 game against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park when Lowell collided with Toronto baserunner John McDonald on a play at first base.

“I’m medically cleared to play and as long as it doesn’t bother me it should be fine,” said Lowell, who was in the lineup for the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the White Sox. “There’s really nothing to do. I feel fine. I feel like I’m swing the bat pretty well lately. I think I feel it more when I go through my tee routine and I get a number of swings in. That’s when I feel it. Overall I think it’s OK.”

Lowell said the team had offered a CT scan after Lowell experienced continued discomfort, but he declined, believing that it was going to get better. He was examined by both the Sox and Tampa Bay Rays‘ team doctors. The rib that was injured is toward the middle of the chest, just to the left.

“It was bruised for three or four days, and after a week went by it felt like it wasn’t getting any better and it was bothering me to get up and when I was sleeping and stuff,” said Lowell, who has hit .270 in the 11 games since the collision with McDonald.

“I don’t think it was getting any worse, but I expected to get better and it just stayed that way. The first couple of days after I expected it to get better. But I had an MRI and they told me the MRI that the No. 6 rib, close to the chest area, was the one with a non-displaced fracture.”

For more Red Sox coverage see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Manny takes the blame, would have returned to Boston

09.03.10 at 6:54 pm ET
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Fresh off joining his fourth team in the Chicago White Sox, slugger Manny Ramirez reflected on his time as a member ofthe Red Sox Friday, in large part taking blame for the actions that led to his departure in 2008. The left fielder, who was unhappy while in Boston, sat out games with questionable injuries and famously got into a scrap with teammate Kevin Youkilis less than two months before his departure to the White Sox.

“Everything was my fault, but you have to be a real man to realize when you do wrong. It was my fault, right. I already passed that stage,” Ramirez told reporters Friday. “I’€™m happy. I’€™m on a new team. When I went to first base, I told Youkilis, ‘€˜What happened between you and me, that’€™s my fault. I’€™m sorry.’€™ It takes a real man to go and tell a person it was my fault and that’€™s what I did.”

Ramirez went to the White Sox on a straight waiver claim, something Tigers DH Johnny Damon refused to do with the Red Sox. Had the Sox claimed their one-time outfielder, Ramirez said he would have returned.

“What I did here in the past is in the past,” Ramirez said, “but if they claimed me, why should I say no?”

In eight seasons with the Red Sox, Ramirez batted .312/.411/.588 with 274 homers and 868 runs batted in. He won World Series titles with the team in 2004 and 2007. Ramirez was moved to the Dodgers at the 2008 trade deadline.

Ramirez said he has used his regrettable actions while in Boston to grow as a player and person, but that he can’t change the way things played out.

“In life, you pass every stage,” Ramirez said. “I passed that stage and you keep growing. You look back and say I did this wrong, but what’€™s done is done. All you can do is go and play the game and finish your career good.”

Read More: Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez,

Some Red Sox Nuggets!

09.03.10 at 9:35 am ET
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Some nuggets from here and there:

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* – Red Sox pitchers fanned 11 Orioles last night, the 34th time this season that they’ve struck out 10 or more. That’s the 4th most such games ever in a season by a Red Sox pitching staff:

42 – 2001
40 – 2009
35 – 2002
24 – 2010

Want some context? The Sox struck out 10+ opponents only twice in 1979 and three times in 1978.

One Other Thing: Last year, the Red Sox went 32-8 in those games and allowed an average of 3.90 runs per game. This year, they are 19-15 and have allowed 4.62 runs per game despite all the strikeouts.

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* – Scott Atchison retired all 6 batters he faced on Thursday. It was just the 9th time this season that a Red Sox reliever has pitched 2+ innings without allowing a baserunner. Three guys have done it twice: Daniel Bard, Manny Delcarmen, and now Atchison.

Historical context alert: In 1965, Hoyt Wilhelm of the Chicago White Sox had ELEVEN such appearances all by himself.

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* – JD Drew reached base 3 times last night. It’s the 16th time this season that he’s been on 3+ times, a far cry from recent seasons:

2006 – 35
2007 – 34
2008 – 34
2009 – 29
2010 – 16

Since coming to Boston in 2007, Drew has reached 3+ times in 113 games, tied for 16th in the AL in that span. New York’s Derek Jeter (150) has the most.

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* – Remember all the consternation over Daniel Bard’s propensity to allow too many home runs after giving up 3 in 14.2 April innings? Well, since May 1, he’s allowed 2 homers in 48.2 innings with a 1.48 ERA, which is tied for 2nd in the majors in that span (min. 45 innings):

1.13 – Hong Chih-Kuo, LAD
1.48 – Daniel Bard, BOS
1.48 – Billy Wagner, ATL

Bard has not allowed a run at home (earned or unearned) since May 8, a streak of 16 consecutive scoreless appearances. That’s tied for the 3rd longest streak ever by a Red Sox pitcher:

22 – Mike Myers (2004-2005)
18 – Tom Gordon (1998)
16 – Daniel Bard (2010)
16 – Mike Timlin (2003)
16 – Mace Brown (1943)

The longest streak ever is 39, by Arthur Rhodes (2008-2009).

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* – Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed exactly 4 earned runs last night for the 4th consecutive start, so I thought I’d check to see who has thrown the most consecutive starts allowing the same number of ER in each. It appears to be Detroit’s Dave Wickersham, who allowed exactly 4 ER in 8 straight starts back in 1965. I did run across a couple other interesting streaks though: John Farrell allowed exactly 3 ER in 7 straight starts in 1989 and in 2002, Tim Wakefield had 7 consecutive starts in which he allowed exactly 1 ER each time.

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* – The Red Sox host the White Sox this weekend. In the last 10 meetings between the two at Fenway Park, the Red Sox have outscored Chicago 73-36 in winning 8 of those 10.

Closing Time: Red Sox 6, Orioles 4

09.02.10 at 10:14 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — While speaking on Tuesday about his club, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein could not help but admit that his team’s starting rotation had not quite been what the team had envisioned entering the season.

“I think it’s fair to say that we expected the rotation one-through-five to be a real weapon for us, that if everything broke our way might be really dominant in that there was even some margin for error built in. If one guy didn’t perform we had the horses to pick up the slack. And it hasn’t come to fruition exactly the way we imagined,” said Epstein. “It hasn’t all come together the way we would have liked, and that’s baseball.

“You try to put the pieces in place and hope it plays out a certain way, but it doesn’t always work that way. There’s still time to sort of right the ship and string together quality start after quality start after quality start and figure things out for the future as well. I think we certainly have the talent. We have as talented a starting rotation as any team in baseball. It’s just been one of those years where we havne’t had the consistency and the consistent domination I think one through five that we had the potential to have, I think unfortunately.”

On Thursday, Daisuke Matsuzaka turned in a performance that was emblematic of his rotation. He made it through three innings without allowing a hit, and sailed through five shutout innings. And then, in one monstrous inning, things came apart, as Matsuzaka allowed four runs on four hits and a walk.

It was still good enough for the Red Sox to claim a 6-4 victory against the Orioles, but it was a reminder of one of the great riddles of the Sox season. On many occasions, starters have delivered a tease, flashing dominant stuff but then seeing the excellence unravel like a ball of string in one or two innings. Matsuzaka is 9-4 with a 4.29 ERA, yet like colleagues Josh Beckett and John Lackey, there remains a sense that he could have done more.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Once again, Matsuzaka offered a glimpse of the stuff that has re-established him as a power pitcher this year. He operated primarily with a 92-94 mph fastball that ticked up to 95 on a few occasions. He has become a pitcher who now can succeed with blunt force, chiefly with a a fastball, cutter and his sharp slider.

Though he lost his shutout bid in head-spinning fashion in the sixth, he still proved effectively aggressive. Matsuzaka attacked the strike zone for much of the night, worked at an efficient pace with the bases empty and walked just the one batter in the sixth. The contest marked just the fourth time in his 20 outings that he had walked fewer than two in a game.

Adrian Beltre reached the 25 homer plateau for the fourth time in the last five seasons. He and Alex Rodriguez are the only third baseman in the big leagues to reach that milestone in four of the last five years.

Scott Atchison turned in an excellent relief outing, striking out three and retiring all six batters he faced.

–The Sox knocked out starter Brad Bergesen after he threw just 5 1/3 innings. Boston is now 40-25 in games when the starter pitches fewer than six frames.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–For the fifth time this year, Matsuzaka allowed four or more runs in an inning. Only Tim Wakefield (6) has been victimized for more such rallies.

Victor Martinez went 0-for-4, ending a seven-game hitting streak in which he’d gone 13-for-30 (.433).

The Yankees won again. The Red Sox have not been able to make up any ground in the division race in five games.

Pedroia: Surgery ‘probably the best idea’

09.02.10 at 6:07 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia awoke to hear the reports that he would be having surgery on Friday to insert a screw in his left foot. That was news to him.

“I woke up today and heard our team sources said I need surgery,” said Pedroia, who has been out for all but two games since June 25 due to a fractured navicular bone. “So I guess I’€™m going to have it.”

Right now, technically, that final decision has not been made. On Wednesday, Pedroia was examined for about 10 minutes by Dr. George Theodore, a team orthopedist who is a foot specialist. That exam was encouraging in some respects, as manager Terry Francona said following that exam that there had been noteworthy improvement in the amount of pain Pedroia was experiencing in range of motion and resistance tests.

Even so, the conclusion has also been reached that surgery is likely, even if that final verdict has not been rendered.

Pedroia is scheduled to have a CT scan on his left foot on Friday morning. While no final decision has been made about whether he will have the screw inserted on Friday, the second baseman still expects that such an outcome is almost certain.

It is possible that the procedure could come later in the day tomorrow, following the scan. Perhaps it will happen later in the offseason. But at this point, with his season over, the 2008 AL MVP fully expects that the procedure will and should take place.

“I think [the screw] would make it heal more,” said Pedroia. “They said there’€™s like a 50 percent change I could feel better [without the procedure] and then, just like what happened last time, I played in two games and then not be able to walk the next day. Putting the screw in would help it heal. There’€™s a good chance that I’€™ll have the surgery at some point.

“I mean, I think that putting the screw in is probably the best idea. It’€™s a 90 percent chance that bone heals. I don’€™t want to get to January, go through my workouts, get to January and go through my workouts and then don’€™t feel good and I miss some of next year. None of us want that to happen. So I think putting the screw in is probably the best idea. But I’€™ll find out tomorrow. I’€™ve got a CT scan early in the morning, and if I need surgery, we’€™ll do it later in the day.”

In 75 games this year, Pedroia hit .288/.367/.493/.860 with 12 homers, earning his third straight All-Star berth. But a foul ball off his left foot in San Francisco on June 25 led to the fracture that will ultimately end his season. Pedroia rehabbed and returned to the Sox lineup on Aug. 17, but after just two games, a recurrence of pain in his foot forced the Sox to return him to the disabled list.

Since Pedroia went on the DL for the first time on June 26, Sox second basemen are hitting .236/.297/.415/.712.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia,
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