Dustin Pedroia thrilled to be back

BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia's game plan for his return to the Boston Red Sox lineup was about as basic as you can get.

"I'm just going to go in there and figure it out on the fly,'' said Pedroia, back after missing 44 games with a fractured navicular bone in his left foot.

Pedroia, coming back after a brief two-game rehab stint in Pawtucket over the weekend, received a thunderous ovation from a sellout crowd of 38,304 as he came to the plate for the first time, then lined the first pitch foul. That was the most noise he would make all night, as he struck out, grounded out twice and flied to center.

"I only faced a right-hander once,'' he said of his time with the PawSox. "There's a little difference in facing a right-hander once in two months and facing Jered Weaver, who's leading the league in strikeouts.''

Weaver, who had thrown six innings or more in 16 straight starts, lasted just five against the Red Sox, with Darnell McDonald (solo home run) and Ryan Kalish (grand slam) doing most of the damage. Back-to-back doubles by David Ortiz and Victor Martinez in the fifth accounted for Boston's final run.

"I thought he was real antsy, all day,'' manager Terry Francona said of Pedroia. "You could see it. But I thought he moved real well. I thought he was playing with his instincts and not thinking about what he was feeling with his foot, so I thought that was good.''

Pedroia handled seven chances in the field cleanly, turning a double play in the second. He was charged with a throwing error in the fifth trying to complete a second double play, but absorbed a strong takeout slide by Mike Napoli on the play.

"It was fun,'' Pedroia said. "It was just exciting being out there with the guys, just being part of a win. I've been sitting down for two months. I know the results weren't good on my part, but it was a blast being out there.

"I actually felt good. I know my timing was off, but I was more nervous before the game to see how my foot was because I really haven't done that much. I had a lot of plays, I moved around well, and I felt fine. I got taken out at second, so I'm more thrilled about that stuff.''

He warned, however, that he doesn't expect to be 100 percent the rest of the season.

Pedroia said he came in early Tuesday, received some treatment, and did some hitting.

"It feels like the first game of the year for me,'' he said.

Pedroia was hitting .292 with 12 home runs, 41 RBIs and 52 runs scored in 73 games when he was placed on the DL. The night before he was hurt, he had the best game of his career, hitting three home runs during a 5-for-5 night in Colorado.

Pedroia's starting replacements have hit a combined .253 with eight home runs, 22 RBIs and 21 runs scored in 154 at-bats. His absence has been felt at least as much defensively. Pedroia had two errors in his first 73 games; his replacements have had six.

"I'm just one of the guys,'' Pedroia said when asked about the impact his return will have on the team. "I don't think anybody's thinking, 'Dustin's back playing, we're going to win every single game.' I'm just one of the guys trying to help us win. Everyone is valued the same on our team. We've got a lot of guys who mean a lot to this team.''

Not to worry. Pedroia didn't have a personality transplant while he was away. His customary brashness returned when a media member asked him, in detail that Pedroia found intrusive, about what limitations he might have.

"What are you getting, a scouting report for the other team?'' he said. "I don't know. Man. I'll figure it out when I'm out there.''

Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.