Dustin Pedroia's rehab assignment is underway

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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia began a minor league rehab assignment on Saturday at Triple-A Pawtucket and finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, according to the Boston Globe’s Dan Hickling.  Not a bad start.

“It felt good,” he said. “It’s been a while since I played. Later in
the game I was a little tired, but overall, I felt fine. It’s the most
I’ve done since I got hurt, so I’m pretty excited about it.”

Pedroia has been sidelined since June 25 with a broken bone in his foot, but he’s managed to stay active and is well ahead of the recovery timetable that doctors laid out at the time of the original diagnosis.  If all goes well this weekend, he could return to Boston’s starting lineup as early as Tuesday.

The scrappy second baseman was batting .292/.370/.502 with 12 home runs, eight stolen bases and 41 RBI in 295 at-bats, and he should pick up right where he left off.

The Red Sox are six games back of the Yankees in the American League East and probably won’t catch the Bombers.  But they face only a four-game deficit in the hunt for the Wild Card and may be able to surpass the Rays with a strong August and September.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉