Dustin Pedroia puts on a knee brace and his hitting shoes

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Dustin Pedroia went into a major slump while playing through a knee injury suffered in mid-May, going 16-for-94 (.170) with zero homers over the next 23 games, but the former MVP is 10-for-20 (.500) with four doubles since deciding to wear a knee brace and seems optimistic that the problems are behind him:

I thought I was messed up there for a while. I was having trouble walking up stairs. It kind of worried me. My legs are like three inches, that was part of the problem. I was striking out quite a bit. I was lunging out to try to hit the ball. That’s not really a part of my game.

Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that Pedroia continues to get treatment of his knee and the revelation that he “was having trouble walking up stairs” during the prolonged slump can’t make Red Sox fans feel very good, but for now at least it looks like Pedroia is back on track.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.