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Bobby Valentine on The Big Show: Dustin Pedroia will be back ‘a lot sooner than projected’

05.30.12 at 3:50 pm ET

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine joined The Big Show Wednesday, discussing the team’s recent play and the injuries with which they’ve dealt.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia has been out since the sixth inning of Monday’s game with a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb, but Valentine said that the second baseman’s progress has been better than expected.

“We just had a meeting before I came here, [GM Ben Cherington] and I and Dustin. He’€™s on the mend. He heals pretty quickly. He’€™s a determined guy,” said Valentine. “I don’t think he’s going to have to swing for a day or two, but I think he’€™ll be back a lot sooner than projected.”

While it remains unknown whether Pedroia will need to be placed on the disabled list, the Sox are expecting Nick Punto to handle second base duties.

“I don’€™t think there will be anything in stone,” Valentine said. “We’€™ll have to be flexible and adapt to playing without Dustin. … We got [Punto] to be the backup in the middle infield. He had a nice little game last night and I think he can perform. No one can perform at Dustin’€™s level. We don’€™t want to say he’€™ll fill the void. But I think with him performing and the other guys filling in, we’ll be fine.”

Tuesday’s victory put the Red Sox cover .500 for the first time this season. Valentine admits that he’s still learning on the fly in his first season managing the Sox, but that he’s gotten much more comfortable than he was when he first came in.

“There was no way of knowing what to do, how to do it, who the guys were, what the challenges were going to be ahead of time,” he said. “You just work through it. Am I more comfortable? Yeah. Am I learning on the job about my players, about the American League, about some of the things that need to be learned? Yeah. I’m lucky to have a lot of help and a lot of good guys that are teaching me along the way.

Starting pitcher Daniel Bard out dueled reigning American League MVP Justin Verlander Tuesday night, allowing two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings on 94 pitches. While the numbers weren’t eye-popping for Bard — five hits, two walks and four strikeouts — his velocity did, as his fastball jumped into the mid 90s.

“He threw the ball harder,” Valentine said. “The pitch count may have been less, but in my mind I’m going to take him out earlier because he’s exerted more energy. He’s throwing 95, 96 miles an hour in this game often, as opposed to 91 and 92 miles an hour. ‘€¦ I’m just thinking, and I don’t know if this is the right assumption, but it took more out of him, so I’m going to take him out a little sooner.”

Bard threw in the upper 90s as a reliever, but after moving to the rotation his velocity dipped to the the low 90s before jumping back up Tuesday night.

“I think he felt a little something in his mechanics,” the manager said of what changed for Bard. “I think he felt a little better about it, understood his posture was something other than what it should have been as he was going down the hill. He corrected that, and I think the results were there.”

Read More: Bobby Valentine, Daniel Bard, Dustin Pedroia,
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