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Feeling no pain

Pedroia, Youkilis in good shape after their ’10 seasons ended early

Throughout the Red Sox’ full-squad workouts, second baseman Dustin Pedroia hasn’t shown any limitations as he returns from a broken foot. Throughout the Red Sox’ full-squad workouts, second baseman Dustin Pedroia hasn’t shown any limitations as he returns from a broken foot. (Jim Davis/ Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 26, 2011

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia said again yesterday that the broken navicular bone in his left foot has fully healed and there is no need to restrict his playing time in spring training.

But Pedroia also insisted he was ready to play last August and limped through two games before giving into the pain and undergoing season-ending surgery. He is one of the players whose default setting is to say he feels great even when that isn’t necessarily the case.

The Red Sox appreciate that quality in their second baseman. But as they prepare for the season, the coaching staff trusts their eyes more than their ears.

Infield coach Tim Bogar is one of those charged with watching Pedroia, and through seven full-squad workouts he is convinced that Pedroia is telling the full truth this time.

“He is, to me, back to normal,’’ Bogar said. “When I watch him move around at second base, he has a lot of energy and he’s not afraid to do anything.

“We’re really paying attention to workload just to make sure. We need him for the 162, not now. We’re monitoring that closely, but he’s been great. We have to hold him back. He always wants more.’’

Pedroia will bat second and play second base against Boston College in the first game of today’s doubleheader at City of Palms Park. It’s another milestone on his long road back. Pedroia was injured last June 25 when he fouled a ball off his foot in San Francisco.

“My biggest thing is to get out there, get in the flow of the game, make sure I’m healthy and feel good, and just see pitches. Just like any normal game,’’ he said. “See pitches, get used to everything, and that’s it. It’s going to be fun . . . It has been a long time.’’

Pedroia believes the biggest adjustments will come when he is at the plate, not in the field.

“That’s my biggest focus, seeing pitches and making sure my legs are underneath me,’’ he said. “I know spring training is not too result-oriented, so I’m not concerned about hits or anything like that. It’s just getting out there and getting back in the groove, because it’s been a long time since I’ve done that.’’

According to Bogar, a former major league infielder, the toughest test for Pedroia in the field will be on balls he has to charge and then throw quickly off his left foot.

“He’ll have to put that pressure on his foot in a hurry,’’ Bogar said. “But so far every time he’s had to do that, it hasn’t been a problem.’’

Bench coach DeMarlo Hale also has kept a close eye on Pedroia and is convinced he is ready.

“I think we have to be cautious with him. Pedey kind of gets full-bore,’’ he said. “The first thing that comes to mind is he isn’t hesitating. I don’t think his injury is in his head.’’

Today’s game, even just the few innings Pedroia is expected to play, will be more revealing to the coaches.

“I look forward to the game reactions, as I call them,’’ Hale said. “I’ve seen practice reactions. But game reactions, where the intensity is a little higher, we will judge where he’s at and I’m sure he’ll do the same.’’

For different reasons, the Sox also will keep a close eye on Kevin Youkilis, who will bat cleanup in the first game. He is switching over to third base after playing predominantly first base the last five years.

“He looks fine,’’ Bogar said. “He’s learning as we go and everything is coming back to him. He knows the position and he handles it well. Now it’s repetition and seeing different balls off the bat.

“We’ve been talking about using his legs to throw and making sure he’s in good position to throw. As you get tired during the season, you have to make sure you do that.’’

Youkilis missed the final two months of last season after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.

“That hasn’t even come up,’’ Bogar said. “It’s not an issue.’’

Youkilis, despite having played only 102 games last season, said the feeling of spring training has been normal so far.

“I’m just ready to get back to playing baseball. I take it like I never got hurt, so I just go out there and play,’’ he said. “There are no restrictions and no setbacks, so for me, it’s just about going out there and having fun and playing baseball.

“I think it’s a cool thing just to be able to go back on the field again. The only thing about being out is that when you don’t get to play baseball for a while you really realize how much you enjoy the game, and to get back on the field will be fun.’’

Michael Vega of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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