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Pedroia is taking his time

He won’t rush recovery again

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / December 7, 2010

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CAP CANA, Dominican Republic — Members of the media were eager to see Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia over the weekend, if only to ask him about the rumor that he planned to play a few games for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League to test his injured left foot.

It wasn’t remotely true. Pedroia was cleared to start jogging only a few days ago and won’t be ready to play for at least another month.

But the notion of getting into a game caused Pedroia to break into a wide smile.

“Bring it on, I’ll play for you guys,’’ he said. “Who’s the guy who can hook me up? Get me his number.’’

Pedroia limited himself to hacking at a few golf balls Saturday at a charity event to benefit the David Ortiz Children’s Fund. He left yesterday to continue his vacation at another Caribbean island with his wife, Kelli, and their 15-month-old son, Dylan.

Pedroia needs the time off after what he described as an arduous, and at times frustrating, rehabilitation of his injury.

The All-Star and former AL MVP broke the navicular bone in his foot June 25 in San Francisco and vowed to come back within a month. Recurring pain and a persistent limp delayed his return until mid-August. But painkillers and an inexhaustible supply of self-confidence were not enough. Pedroia lasted only two games before suffering a setback.

He has spent his time since either on crutches or going through strengthening exercises at a facility near his home in Arizona. Allen Gruver, a physical therapist who works with the Diamondbacks, has been overseeing the rehabilitation process since the season ended.

“Some days are great, some days I think too much and I think something is wrong,’’ Pedroia said. “I’m doing so much to try and get my strength back in my left leg that some days are pretty tough.’’

Once he returns from his vacation, Pedroia will work up from jogging to a full sprint. Come Jan. 1, he plans to start working out six days a week to prepare for the season.

“I’m confident that I have enough time to be 100 percent and play every game next year,’’ he said.

Pedroia admitted he pushed too hard last season and hid how much pain he was feeling. He doesn’t expect to make the same mistakes again.

“I have to watch it. If I get tired, I’ve got to be smart and go sit down. That’s the thing with this injury, the pounding on it. I need to be smart about that stuff,’’ he said.

“I’ve got to pick and choose some of the stuff I do, and if I’m sore that day, take fewer ground balls and be ready for the game.’’

Pedroia will wear a special cleat with protective padding around the bone for at least three or four months next season. He also will use a shin guard-type device when he is at the plate.

As the Red Sox try to recover from a season in which they sank into third place in the AL East, having Pedroia healthy is critical.

“We need him back and back to being himself,’’ Ortiz said. “Losing Pedey for as long as we did, that was tough. You don’t replace a guy like that. It was hard to see him sitting there and he couldn’t walk. It was bad luck last year and he had the worst.’’

Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier played with Pedroia at Arizona State and the two are close friends. He expects Pedroia to have a “monster season.’’

“It drove him crazy to miss so much time,’’ Ethier said. “He’s going to want to make up for that. People get hurt; it’s part of the game. But he feels like he owes them something. I’ve seen how hard he is working.’’

Pedroia is planning to report to spring training Feb. 11, two days before pitchers and catchers are due in. As much as he is enjoying the time away, he is eager to get back in uniform and play without the pain that has dogged him for nearly six months.

“I’ll be fine,’’ Pedroia said. “I’m excited. I haven’t played in a long time and I’m ready to get out there.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe

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