Tuesday marks the Red Sox’ return to Fenway and it is also the day the organization and fans will celebrate the 2018 World champions on the field. Rings will be given out and the Patriots will be in attendance as we look back at the best season in franchise history. It will also hopefully be the day the rough start is put in the rearview with a return to the east coast.
In addition to all of that, it is also the return of one of the franchise’s top players of the last two decades. Dustin Pedroia did come back for a few games in 2018 before being shut down permanently, but the hope and expectation is that things will go more smoothly in 2019. He started the year on the injured list, playing this past weekend in Greenville rather than joining his teammates out west, but now he has been deemed ready for primetime. The Red Sox have activated the second baseman ahead of Tuesday’s game.
Dustin Pedroia activated off the injured list.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) April 9, 2019
To make room, Tzu-Wei Lin was optioned back to Pawtucket.
This is almost certainly a positive for the Red Sox, though we all know at this point that we have no idea what to truly expect from Pedroia at this point of his career. Fighting a long-term knee injury, the long-time defensive stalwart at the keystone position may not be able to move quite as well as he once did and cover as much ground. Even if his range isn’t quite what it once was, though, his instincts and fundamentals are too good for him not to be at least average at the position. Offensively, he’ll draw some walks and work some counts, giving him a relatively high floor. I probably wouldn’t expect a ton of power, but if he can hit line drives on a consistent basis he should be able to provide something around league-average offense. Given what they got last year and so far in 2019 at second base, that kind of stable presence would be a welcome addition to the lineup.
Even with Pedroia back, don’t expect Eduardo Núñez to be hidden on the bench now. Alex Cora has shown, sometimes to a fault, the need to put the infielder in the lineup on a consistent basis. I’d expect Pedroia to be eased back in for the next few weeks, with more days off than any other starter in the lineup. Meanwhile, Rafael Devers has clearly earned some confidence from the coaching staff given his presence in the top third of the lineup for so much of the year. That said, Núñez will still get some starts at third base, particularly against tough lefties.