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Pedroia back, optimistic

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  March 15, 2009 09:03 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Of this we can be sure: Dustin Pedroia’s lower abdominal strain has done nothing to affect his well-chronicled self-confidence.

“When you have a physique like this, when you’re shredded and everything, something might happen,” he said this morning.

That something is a strain in his left abdominal muscle, which is just above his hip bone and below the dreaded oblique. Dr. Thomas Gill and Red Sox trainer Paul Lessard diagnosed Pedroia at his home here last night, and Pedroia was satisfied the injury is not serious. Panic among New Englanders concerned for the health of the 2008 American League MVP, he said, is unnecessary.

“Tell them to calm down,” Pedroia said. “We’ll handle this. Calm down.

“I don’t think it’s going to linger. I’ll take care of it and get it ready and get ready for the season. It won’t be an issue.”

Pedroia felt the strain suddenly while playing soft toss with Team USA at the World Baseball Classic in Miami. For a moment, Pedroia wanted to play through the injury, but counsel from teammate Kevin Youkilis helped convince him otherwise.

“I was taking some flips, and to be honest with you, I just took one swing,” Pedroia said. “They did a great job of shutting me down. I kind of felt it, and I grabbed at it. The hitting coach [Reggie Smith] said, ‘Don’t do anything. Go see the trainer.’ So I did. I was going to try to play, you know? And then Youk kind of calmed me down. He said, ‘Listen, go shut it down. Get it looked at. We’ve still got three more weeks. You’ll be fine.’ I did it that way.”

Pedroia’s injury crystallizes one of the drawbacks and complaints about the WBC – star players risking injury in what amounts to an exhibition. Pedroia acknowledged the difficulty in playing full games so early, but he did not blame the WBC for his strain.

“I think the only thing is, it’s tough playing nine innings right away,” Pedroia said. “Usually, you only play five or six innings, three at bats. You kind of jump in there real fast to play nine innings. But it’s not that big of a deal. This could have happened to me here in Fort Myers. I don’t think me getting hurt was because of the WBC. I don’t think it was because of that.”

Manager Terry Francona agreed that the WBC shouldn't take blame.

"Well, I don't know if it's fair to throw that on the WBC," Francona said. "The way it was handled was actually really good. The trainer got a hold of our trainer on the bus. We knew something was going on. He immediately called me. Theo was in on the next conversation. They got him right over to us last night. So, could he do that in a cage here, too? Yeah. So, again, the way it was handled was pretty good."

Pedroia is unsure when he will return to spring training games with the Red Sox. His best guess was “a couple days.” He will remain with the Red Sox for the duration of the spring, and admitted it might be difficult for him to heal the injury slowly.

“I’ll get treatment probably 100 times today to try to get back a little faster,” Pedroia said. “It’s not going to be that much of a problem. I’ll take care of this and get ready for the season.”

Said Francona: “I don’t think it’s terribly long. We’re three weeks away from the season, so we’re going to err on the side of caution.”

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