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Injury brings him to his knees

Despite his broken foot, Pedroia takes grounders

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / July 1, 2010

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With his left foot still encased in a boot and with strict doctor’s orders not to put weight on said foot, Dustin Pedroia still managed to take grounders at second base yesterday at Fenway Park. There he was, on his knees, scooping up ground balls hit by infield instructor and third base coach Tim Bogar, practicing his fielding and his throwing while unable to walk.

“I’m just keeping my [expletive] ready,’’ Pedroia said. “That’s all I’ve got for you. I’ve just got to keep my arm in shape.’’

Pedroia — amused that he was at the center of media attention yesterday — clearly cannot stand to be on the disabled list. So, while being driven around in carts, the second baseman is doing all he can to remain sharp, even though he is unlikely to be back for six weeks.

“I’m pretty bored,’’ Pedroia said. “There’s not really a lot to do for me right now. I really don’t do much. I just sit down, lift weights sitting down. That’s about it.’’

Manager Terry Francona, meanwhile, is doing his best to keep Pedroia from doing too much, trying to keep him off the field. That, obviously, didn’t work yesterday. Not that Francona really minded. He understands how difficult this has been and will be for Pedroia.

“I failed miserably,’’ Francona said. “He’s a maniac. He knows he can’t put any weight on that foot. He knows he’s going to slow himself down if he does, so he’ll abide by the rules, but he’s going to bend them as much as he can.

“Anybody that’s been around him for two seconds is going to know he’s going to do everything in his power to be ready to go when the bell rings, whenever that is. You guys know that’s part of what makes him so special. He’s unique.’’

It certainly was unique to see a player so bent on practicing, on doing anything baseball related, that he turned to the spring training drill just a few days into having crutches and a boot.

“Hopefully I heal fast,’’ Pedroia said. “I’ll be all right. We keep winning, I’ll be fine. We start losing, I might panic, start walking. But I’ll be all right.

“You never know. In three weeks I might be able to walk and feel real good. I’m doing my treatment a thousand times. Hopefully it doesn’t take six weeks, hopefully I’m back earlier than that. That’s my goal.’’

Asked how he has been keeping himself occupied, other than the afternoon’s drills, Pedroia said, “Hanging out. That’s all I do. It’s miserable.’’

No real relief
Hideki Okajima continued his slide on Tuesday night, with the reliever responsible for two runs and just two outs. Over his last 16 games and 14 innings, Okajima has a 7.07 ERA, allowing 11 earned runs. He also has eight walks in that time. His overall ERA has skyrocketed to 5.81 for the season.

“There’s been a couple games where he’s coming in when the game’s not in doubt, and he’s not pitched well,’’ Francona said. “I understand that. He loves the adrenaline, so I think that has helped raise his ERA a little bit. When he hasn’t commanded, he’s paid the price. He’s not a power pitcher.

“With the emergence of [Daniel] Bard, there’s been times when Oki’s pitched earlier in the game than he probably prefers. We want to get Oki hot, at the same time, that’s part of the reason we have two lefties now, because we felt like we were getting Oki up much too early and not getting him in a game. We don’t think that was helping either.’’

Okajima’s struggles have placed more pressure on Bard, who already has amassed an American League-leading 39 appearances, and was forced into duty Tuesday night in a game that had been a blowout.

“I think we’ve been handling it,’’ Francona said, of Bard’s games total. “The guys that are throwing up the really good numbers, we want to pitch them a lot, that’s how you win. We will not overuse people. [Tuesday] night was an example. You try to maybe get through not using Bard. We’re also not going to let the game slip away. So rather than wait too long, we went ahead and used him.’’

The Sox announced that they signed Milton native Rich Hill. Hill, 30, will pitch in relief for Triple A Pawtucket, and is considered depth for the bullpen, according to general manager Theo Epstein. Hill has pitched for both the Cubs and Orioles and recently exercised an out with the Cardinals after pitching for their Triple A team. He was 4-3 with a 4.30 ERA in 23 games for Memphis. Hill could be used to help a bullpen that is weak in the middle innings.

Drew sits one out
J.D. Drew was scratched from last night’s lineup with a stiff neck. He was replaced in right field by Darnell McDonald, who batted eighth. Drew was unavailable in the clubhouse before the game. After the game, Francona called it “real stiff.’’ The neck trouble started in the later innings of Tuesday night’s game, and got worse yesterday . . . Josh Beckett will throw to hitters today at noon, the first time in his rehab that he has pitched to batters. He is likely to head out on a rehab start in five days . . . Daniel Nava has just three hits in his last 21 at bats (.143) with seven strikeouts, and the outfielder got yesterday off. Eric Patterson, making his first start for the Sox, took Nava’s spot in left field. “I don’t think there’s any reasonable expectation that he could stay on a pace where he’s going to drive in 300,’’ Francona said. “I don’t care who you are. Just kind of cooled off on the road trip a little bit. He’s been playing a lot.’’ . . . Patterson, who came up as an infielder, will share time with Bill Hall at second base, though Hall is likely to get the nod in the infield if both are in the lineup. Francona mentioned that Patterson provides some flexibility, especially as a pinch runner. “It’s not like the position is totally new to me,’’ Patterson said of second base. “However they want to use me, whether it’s second base, outfield, or whatever, I’m just another piece to the puzzle. Hopefully I can help these guys win games.’’ Patterson spent time before batting practice learning the intricacies of the Green Monster . . . The loss last night ended the seven-game home win streak . . . Francona, apprised that Doc Rivers would be returning for another year coaching the Celtics, was pleased that his friend would be back. “From a personal standpoint, I’m thrilled. I hope he is too,’’ Francona said. “It sounds like there was a lot of thinking involved. From personal experience, after a season like that, I think you’re probably exhausted. I hope he’s really happy with his decision. I would imagine he is, or he wouldn’t have come back. But from a personal standpoint I’m thrilled. I’ll reup my tickets as soon as possible.’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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