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Dustin Pedroia, Sox avoid WBC calamity

03.20.09 at 1:37 pm ET

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia appears to have avoided a serious injury. The 2008 American League MVP returned to the field today, collecting an infield hit and RBI groundout in two at-bats while having no problems either running or in the field.

But Pedroia insists that he was not the only one who avoided significant injury when he left the World Baseball Classic due to a strained lower left abdominal muscle. Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is slated to pitch against Team USA this weekend, may have also avoided damage with Pedroia back in the Grapefruit League.

“Daisuke’€™s lucky I’€™m not there. I’€™d hit a line drive right off his back,” said Pedroia. “You guys can put that in your papers: I’€™d hit a line drive right off his back. He’€™d better hope that the Red Sox don’€™t trade him.”

Clearly, the last week has done little to dampen the second baseman’s confidence. Here are the rest of Pedroia’s thoughts on his first game activity since the strain.

How did you feel?

I felt good. I think the biggest thing is to see how I feel tomorrow, if I’€™m not sore or anything like that. I definitely want to take it slow, do all my treatment and stuff. It was good to get back on the field, get a couple at-bats and get back in the game rhythm, but tomorrow is probably the biggest day. (We’€™ll) see how it feels, hopefully I’€™m not sore, hopefully Sunday I can get out there and play again.

What is the biggest physical issue stemming from the injury?

Probably swinging. I feel fine running and doing stuff like that. That last at-bat, I tried to swing normally. My first at-bat, I was kind of swinging softly a little bit. But I fouled a couple pitches off, I swung hard and I felt okay. Then I got the hit, and I felt fine running. It’€™s a good day. I’€™m glad to get out there and continue to get better.

Is the biggest hurdle mental at this point?

Yeah, a little bit. You get your treatment and they tell you your plan. You kind of don’€™t really know. I know my body more than anybody. I think I have to be the one to take care of it and kind of go through the process slower. If it was up to me, I’€™d try to play nine innings, but I can’€™t do that yet. I’€™ll try to take just a couple of at-bats and continue to progress for the season.

How was it on defense?

Fine. I made a couple plays. It wasn’€™t an issue. It didn’€™t even cross my mind. The biggest thing, my last at-bat, I wanted to swing hard. I swing hard all the time, so I wanted to make sure everything was fine.

Were you just tentative in your first at-bat?

I wanted to get (Jacoby Ellsbury in from third base), and I hadn’€™t seen a pitch in, like, eight days. It was kind of a weird at-bat. I wanted to hit it up the middle and just kind of get him in. I didn’€™t care if I hit a groundball at second or short. That’€™s kind of what I was trying to do.

What else will you do today?

Just treatment, ice, take care of it. That’€™s about it. So far, so good. We’€™ll keep getting the treatment done. Hopefully this thing goes away immediately.

How worried were you that this would be a longer-term injury?

I knew it wasn’€™t going to be four weeks. I’€™ve played through injuries before. AS players, you know your bodies. Everyday players, we get beat up a lot. I didn’€™t want to go out there and do something to hurt it even worse at the time when it happened. The Red Sox and the WBC did a great job of stopping me at the time. I would have run out there and played.

The dog-pile (after the win over Puerto Rico) could have been particularly dicey.

Yeah, I probably would have been at the bottom getting stepped on.

What is the plan going forward towards Opening Day?

I don’€™t know. I’€™ll talk to (Terry Francona) and the training staff about that. I know that I’€™m not playing tomorrow, and then if I feel good, hopefully I’€™ll play Sunday, try to get my timing back and get ready for the season.

Will it be tough to watch the WBC?

I wish I was there to be a part of it. It was an unbelievable experience getting a chance to play with all those guys. I’€™ll definitely be rooting hard for them. I’€™ll shoot them a text message ‘€“ a little motivational message. I’€™ll get them going.

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dustin Pedroia, WBC,
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