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Dustin Pedroia to begin year on the Injured List

The second baseman will not, in fact, be leading off Opening Day.

MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest questions for the Red Sox as we look ahead to the long road ahead in 2019 is what exactly they’ll be able to get out of Dustin Pedroia. The veteran second baseman is looking for a comeback this season after his 2017 was shortened and he missed basically all of 2018. The best-case scenario was something like a full season, though presumably with more scheduled days off than we’ve grown accustomed to over his career. Well, the best-case scenario is out the window. On Monday Alex Cora made the announcement that Pedroia would start the 2019 season on the Injured List.

Now, to be fair, this doesn’t come entirely out of nowhere. As we discussed over the weekend, Cora had mentioned the possibility on Saturday. Earlier in the winter, if you’ll recall, the plan was for Pedroia to hit out of the leadoff slot on Opening Day before moving down in the order later in the year. Clearly that won’t happen here. The good news is, according to Cora, this isn’t a setback with the knee injury that kept Boston’s former AL MVP out for 2018. In fact, he’s still going to play semi-regularly to close out the spring. The team is still working him up, though, and there is some concern about Pedroia playing in back-to-backs. Cora didn’t give a target date for Pedroia’s return.

As for the ripple effects of the impending move, there are a couple of note. The first is that second base will have to be filled. Brock Holt should get most the time there, one would hope. He’s not a Gold Glove caliber player there, of course, but he’s more than fine. Eduardo Núñez also figures to get some time there as well. He was a disaster at the position last year, so hopefully another offseason of rest for his own ailing knee will make him at least closer to passable there.

In addition to that, we can’t expect someone like Tzu-Wei Lin or even Michael Chavis to get the call to the majors to replace Pedroia on the roster. Instead, as we mentioned in our latest roster projection, the team is going to carry an extra pitcher in Pedroia’s stead. The battle for the last bullpen spot was kind of a mess, and now there is another open spot. My guess is that Marcus Walden and Bobby Poyner get those spots, but Colten Brewer, Hector Velázquez and even Darwinzon Hernández, among others, are still options.