What’s next for Dustin Pedroia and why winning the 2013 World Series might have been a bad thing?

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — The 2013 World Series championship may have actually been a bad thing for Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia, who had to wait until November because of the late start to the offseason, to have surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb suffered on Opening Day a year ago, was still not back to full strength for the home opener this April. That likely didn’t help matters when he landed on that same hand when he was taken out on a double play on April 4 against the Brewers.

“It’s just unfortunate that when it happened I was still rehabbing from my thumb surgery and I kind of fell awkwardly and that area got pretty inflamed,” Pedroia said. “We tried to manage it the best we can and just get through it.”

The second baseman said following an MRI on Tuesday the team has three options: rest, play through it the rest of the season or opt for surgery. He did said the surgery would be a minor one (not anything to do with repairing the UCL) and wouldn’t affect his offseason workout regimen and he would be able to lift weights, something he wasn’t able to do this past offseason.

The good news is there isn’t anything structurally wrong, it’s more inflammation — something Pedroia has had to deal with for the entire 2014 season — a major reason why he’s hitting a career-low .278 with also a career-low seven home runs.

“Just soreness,” Pedroia said. “Obviously I’ve been kinda dealing with it for most of the year. It’s part of the job. The training staff and everyone has done a good job getting me out there. Obviously it’s dealing with little injuries and things like that. You have to find a way to get through it.”

The decision for what is next for Pedroia will come on Wednesday, but when asked with the team being 22.5 games out of first place, would shutting it down by the best thing, Pedroia answered in typical Pedroia fashion.

“I never pack it in,” he said. “It means a lot to play baseball in the major leagues, especially for the Boston Red Sox. There shouldn’t be one guy in here that would want to pack it in. We’re here for each other and play no matter where we are in the standings.”

What do you think Dustin Pedroia should do? Leave your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @RyanHannable.

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John Farrell: Dustin Pedroia’s offense ‘impacted’ by left wrist/hand injury

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — Dustin Pedroia is hitting .278/.337/.376 in 135 games this season — all three being the lowest of his eight full seasons in the major leagues. Wednesday, it was revealed why.

“He’s got some soreness in the left hand,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s been getting treatment on it for some time now and as it’s probably worsened some felt like he needs to give this a little bit of a break. I can’t say whether it’s directly related to the repair that he went through last year. An MRI (done today) did reveal that it’s got further inflammation in the left hand, left wrist area.”

It may be to the point where the second baseman is shutdown for the season.

“Could be,” Farrell said. “There’s further information being gathered. Right now, he’s not in the lineup tonight.”

Pedroia injured the hand/wrist on April 4 against the Brewers, but Farrell said he has been managing the soreness since “mid-year.” It’s unclear what specific date he is referring to. Judging by power numbers alone, it may have happened in June as he had just seven extra-base hits in June, five in July and seven in August. This after having 11 in May and nine in April.

“It’s had an impact, there’s no doubt,” Farrell said of the injury. “To what extent, it’s hard to say. Like I said, he’s dealt with this for some time.”

Pedroia injured his left thumb on Opening Day of 2013, but played the entire season and had surgery after the World Series last November. He hit .301 with nine home runs and 84 RBI, while slugging .415, which was the worst mark of his career prior to this year. The 31-year-old is hard to keep off the field because of his gritty attitude — always looking to do whatever he can to help the team win and stay on the field.

“With Dustin it gets to the point of taking the decision out of his hands because he does want to continue to play,” said Farrell. “

Pedroia hasn’t missed more than eight games in four of his eight full seasons of the league, but this might be a different situation with the Red Sox currently 21.5 games out of first place and the last three weeks of the season are meaningless for all intensive purposes.

“It hasn’t been determined if he were to continue to play does it put him at further risk?,” Farrell said. “I don’t think the medical staff is saying that he’s at further risk. It’s just to the point where the discomfort is there. We’re taking some time now to just gather all the information and lay out the best plan going forward for him. His long-term health is the most important thing. That will always be kept in the forefront.”

Would you shut down Dustin Pedroia for the remainder of the season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @RyanHannable.

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Edward Mujica: ‘This is a big opportunity for me to go out there and show what I can do’

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON – After recording the final two outs of Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, newly-named closed Edward Mujica, released a unique fist pump showing some emotion on the field for the first time this season when he picked up his fourth save of the season.

Although the final month of the season may not mean much to the team in the standings, it does mean a lot of some individual players, including Mujica as he is the team’s closer moving forward and with Koji Uehara not under contract for next season, it’s a chance for Mujica to show what he has.

“This is a big opportunity for me to go out there and show what I can do,” Mujica said following the game. “Back in the bullpen trying to back up Koji and they gave me the opportunity early in the season and now I am trying to pick up Koji because he’s having rough outings.”

Mujica is no stranger to closing out games as he finished with 37 saves last year with St. Louis in 64 2/3 innings. He didn’t pitch much in the Cardinals’ World Series appearance last season due to a groin injury and then signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox over the winter.

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for Mujica as he posted a 10.00 ERA in nine innings in the month of April. His velocity wasn’t where it was last season and what it is now, which Mujica points to as not getting as many appearances in the spring as he would’ve liked.

“Last year they used me a lot in St. Louis and when I got here they told me they didn’t want to use me a lot because I pitched a lot last season,” Mujica said. “Spring training — I got like five or six innings of work, so I think April was shaky for me because I maybe needed a little bit more work in spring training to get ready for the season. Things can happen, I’m just trying to work hard everyday to get ready.”

The right-hander has turned things around dramatically as he was able to earn the closers role with Uehara’s struggles of late. It’s almost like he’s been a completely different pitcher since the first month of the year as since he has posted an ERA of 2.80.

With Uehara being a free agent after the year and Mujica returning, this could be an audition of sorts for the 2015 closers spot, but Mujica isn’t ready to go down that road.

“I don’t know,” he said. “That is a decision — I don’t know. They make that decision and I have to go out there and just work.”

What do you think of Edward Mujica as the team’s closer? Leave your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @RyanHannable.

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Yoenis Cespedes, an RBI machine, showing what Red Sox could have for years to come

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON – Yoenis Cespedes added another first to his resume Friday night – a walk-off hit as a member of the Red Sox as his single in the 10th inning to the triangle in right-center gave the Red Sox a wild, come-from-behind, 9-8 win over the Blue Jays. The hit was Cespedes’ second walk-off hit of his career.

It capped what was another tremendous game for the slugger as he went 4-for-6 with two RBI in the win. Since being traded to the Red Sox, Cespedes has hit .297 with 13 extra-base hits and 26 RBI.

“We knew it was a guy that had a tremendous skills package, but he’s proven to us time and time again in RBI situations that’s he’s got a knack for it,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s an aggressive hitter so he’s got a chance to hit some balls that might be off the edge and he stays in the middle of the field for the most part. He’s not a dead pull hitter where he might be susceptible to breaking balls away. He keeps the bat in the zone and he’s aggressive and strong and he’s got all-field coverage.”

His performance Friday night matched his career-high for a third time with four hits and was his first four-hit game since July 20, 2012.

Cespedes has been an RBI machine for the Red Sox since coming over from Oakland – not only personally, but for the team – as he’s driven in 26 of the Red Sox’ 130 runs (20 percent).

Although it’s only a month into his career, he’s already starting to get comparisons to one of the most clutch players in Red Sox history – David Ortiz.

“Kind of like Ortiz,” Xander Bogaerts said. “I don’t know if they share tips with each other, but when he sees guys on base he just drives them in”

The left fielder is hitting .421 (16-for-38) with runners in scoring position since joining the Red Sox.

His presence alone adds value to whatever team he’s on — as between Oakland and Boston over the course of his three years in the league — in games he appears in his teams have a record of 242-155.

Signed until the end of 2015, Cespedes is due to be a free agent at the end of next season and will be seeking his first large contract as a major league player. With the Red Sox desperate for power from the outfield position, Cespedes seems like a natural fit at Fenway – both hitting for power over the Green Monster as well as his terrific throwing arm from left field preventing runners from taking the extra base.

While he likely won’t ever turn into the player Ortiz is — he could be a major key to the Red Sox for years to come and Friday night was just a precursor for what is to come.

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With Koji Uehara out of the closers role, could Edward Mujica be auditioning for 2015 Red Sox closer?

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — After Koji Uehara’a latest rough ninth inning — allowing two home runs in the ninth inning in a 5-4 walk-off loss to the Yankees Thursday night — manager John Farrell announced Friday Edward Mujica will be moved into the closers role, at least for the time being.

“Koji has been moved out of the closers spot temporarily — we’ll close with Mujica,” Farrell said. “After having a chance to sit with Koji he was understanding and understands the reason for it. We’ll probably give him a couple of days to regroup some and look to get him back into some lower-leverage situations. Ideally, we’d have him close out games before the season is out. That’s the plan moving forward and when that is remains to be seen.”

There has been plenty of talk surrounding the struggles of Uehara being physcial as he’s 39 years old and coming off of a season where he pitched 87 2/3 innings, including the postseason, which was by far the most of his entire career and thrown another 61 1/3 this year.

“There’s no reason to shutdown a healthy player,” Farrell said. “There’s no physical ailments, he doesn’t complain of anything. He downplays the fatigue that is discussed or written about or reported. We have to factor all that in and not be blind to the number of appearances he;s had over the last two years.”

Mujica is no stranger to the closers role as he had 37 saves with St. Louis last season. Due to a rough April, Mujica has a had a rough perception with fans, but he’s had a fairly productive season as since April he’s had an ERA of 2.91. He also had a streak in Aug. where he went 14 straight appearances without allowing an earned run.

Uehara is not under contract for 2015. After not dealing him at the trade deadline there was a though the organization would offer him a qualifying offer for 2015 ($14.1 million in 2014), but with the way he’s pitched of late and his age, that could have changed.

It is a bit awkward for the Red Sox at the moment as they have their eye on 2015, but Uehara isn’t under contract. They could totally shut him down and have him get ready for next year, but the right-hander is a free agent and would probably like to prove to other clubs he is healthy and his recent performance is not indicative of how he is as a reliever.

“He’s earned the right to be dealt with the way he is,” said Farrell. “We take the view of every player regardless of his contract status as their health is first and foremost. We’re not going to do anything to jeopardize that.”

Farrell added: “There is no denying his total body of work here — it’s been elite. There’s been a couple of stretches within that two years that like any good pitcher they are going to get challenged and when you look at him over the course of his career and his time as a reliever he’s had these in the past — it just so happens it’s happening at this time of the year. It doesn’t deter our value of him by any means. That situation will take care of himself.”

If the Red Sox do not offer a contract to Uehara, they will obviously be in need of a closer for 2015. Mujica is under contract and is the only player on the team and even in the minor league system with real closers experience. While Mujica has pitched well of late, he hasn’t exactly pitched in the highest-leverage situations.

This could be a trial of sorts for Mujica as if he pitches well, don’t be surprised if in 2015 it’s no longer ‘Koji time,’ but ‘Mujica time.’

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