FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Alex Cora wanted to make it very clear: there have been no setbacks when it comes to Dustin Pedroia's return.
That said, the initial hope that the second baseman would be leading off Opening Day for the Red Sox in Seattle on March 28 is now out the window. Cora announced Monday morning that the Sox' plan is to have Pedroia start his season continuing his progression at JetBlue Park instead of Safeco Field.
"We’re running out of time so we’re going to keep him on schedule. He’s going to play hopefully (Tuesday). He’ll play Tuesday. He’ll play Thursday. He’ll play Saturday. Then he will play one of the two games against the Cubs and then he’ll come back here to keep building up. No setbacks. Nothing out of the ordinary," Cora said. "We just feel we need more time whether it’s back-to-backs or more innings. It’s actually not the at-bats. There’s not a target date. I think the target day will be the day he shows up and we’re comfortable where he’s at as far as the workload and he’ll be ready."
Cora wouldn't hazard a guess as to when Pedroia might be joining the major league team but did make a point to highlight how well the infielder has been playing to date.
Pedroia has appeared in four Grapefruit League games, getting seven at-bats. The most he has played to date is five innings.
"Just keep the progression. He looks actually really good," Cora noted. "But we do feel that if we erred on the safe side it’s going to be a lot better. I’ve been saying all along, it would be perfect if it was basketball, OK, you’re playing three innings today. But it doesn’t work that way in baseball. Even the off days. Let’s say he’s not playing and for some reason (Eduardo Nunez) Nunie gets thrown out of the game, Brock (Holt) gets thrown out of the game and I’m going to put Mookie (Betts) at second and then I’m like, ‘OK Pedey you have to play.’ It works that way. We have to play it safe and he’ll be fine. I’ll say it again, it wasn’t a setback. It’s not that we don’t feel comfortable where he’s at right now. It’s actually the other way around."
As for Pedroia's reaction to the plan?
"He understands. Obviously a little bit down which is great. That means he’s feeling good. No pushback," Cora said. "Obviously he had certain goals and we respect that, we know that. But he understands this isn’t only for this year. This is a plan for three years. We need him to keep playing. He’ll be OK."
Without Pedroia on the Opening Day roster, the plan is for the Red Sox' to keep 13 pitchers instead of 12.