The 2018 World Series MVP left an exhibition game last weekend due to discomfort. Boston manager Alex Cora said Pearce has had plenty of at-bats in minor league games, so he’s feeling good as far as his swing is concerned.
“It’s just a matter of how he feels moving around,” Cora explained Monday. “We’re not going to push him. We have to be smart about this. Just to push him out there because it’s Opening Day makes no sense for what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The defending champions begin the season Thursday in Seattle against the Mariners. If the Red Sox place Pearce on the injured list, Sam Travis could start at first base.
“He’s been swinging the bat, he plays first, he’s a right-handed hitter,” Cora said. “It seems like we’re going to face a lot of lefties on the West Coast. Having a right-handed bat would help us out.”
Pearce, also a right-handed hitter, normally platoons with lefty-hitting Mitch Moreland at first.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia will start Tuesday in the spring training finale against the Chicago Cubs. Pedroia was limited to three games last season after undergoing a microfracture procedure and cartilage replacement in his left knee in October 2017.
The 35-year-old Pedroia hosted Red Sox players and coaches Sunday night at his home in the Phoenix area.
“He’s in a good place,” Cora said. “I was joking with him because for that kid who played in Anaheim, in his first big league game in 2006, I still remember he was 5-6, chubby. He hates that I say that but he was. To see the house he has, I’m like, ‘Wow. You did well, bro. What a story, you should write a book.’ It was amazing. Obviously, in this environment, you go to some nice houses. They should do that show again — ‘Cribs’ — and go to Pedroia’s.”
How important would it be for the Red Sox to get a healthy Pedroia back?
“It’s good,” Cora said. “Forget the player — for him to be happy, that’s the most important thing. Last year, he was great for us in the clubhouse, he was a leader, he was another coach. He still can play. You see him on a daily basis and he’s smiling a little more, he’s talking again, he’s loud. When he’s loud, he’s in a good place. We’re very happy with the progression.
“Whenever he comes back, I know he’s going to contribute,” Cora said. “We can’t get too excited. We have to be patient. We have to be disciplined with this.”
The Red Sox plan to set the order of their rotation after David Price‘s exhibition start Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs. Price might pitch one inning and that could be enough, Cora said. “He feels good right now,” the manager added. “If he feels like pitching one inning tomorrow is enough. That means he’ll probably pitch in Seattle early.”