Dustin Pedroia set for return from DL

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- The results weren't anything extraordinary for Dustin Pedroia on Sunday, a quiet 0-for-3 in fact.

But the good news was that, after serving as designated hitter for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Pedroia proclaimed himself ready to return to the Boston Red Sox after only two days of rehab at McCoy Stadium.

Pedroia will be back at second base Tuesday night at Fenway Park -- an outstanding 27th birthday present not only for the former Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the American League, but also for his teammates and Red Sox fans as Boston continues to chase a playoff berth.

Pedroia, the feisty heart and soul of the Red Sox, hasn't played for Boston since June 25 when he fouled a ball off his left foot in a third-inning at-bat, suffering a broken bone that forced him to the disabled list the following day. The Red Sox have Monday off before kicking off a nine-game homestand against the Angels on Tuesday.

"I feel good. I had three at-bats. It wasn't anything great. It's good enough," Pedroia said after Pawtucket's 3-1 victory over Buffalo on Sunday.

In the first inning, Pedroia hit a nubber back to pitcher Raul Valdes, who turned the bouncer into an inning-ending double play. Pedroia flied to right and flied to left in his other two at-bats, seeing a total of 11 pitches. On Saturday night, when Pedroia played the entire game at second base, he went 1-for-3 with a walk.

Pedroia admits he won't be 100 percent when he returns, but he doesn't feel the calendar permits him time to get even a little more comfortable before rejoining the big league team.

"I haven't really been 100 percent all year," said Pedroia. "We're in a pennant race. There are a lot of games left. We're going to make a run at it.

"I'm excited about getting out there to play every day. I haven't been out there every day for a while, so I can't wait."

Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo gave Pedroia's return his stamp of approval, taking note of Pedroia's mechanics in the batter's box. Lovullo was checking to make sure Pedroia wasn't altering his approach to the ball, particularly how he landed on his front -- left -- foot.

"I thought the two days he was here were very productive," said Lovullo. "He had a balanced approach [at the plate]. We wanted to see him getting on his foot, getting out of the box and getting down the line. He was getting that front foot down. He was balanced, using the right side of the diamond. He stuck to his plan."

The crowd of 10,010 no doubt was hoping for offensive fireworks from Pedroia, said Lovullo.

"I think everybody wanted to see him knock the ball all around and get base hits," said Lovullo.

That Pedroia was healthy enough to head up the road to Boston, however, was the most important aspect of his two days in Pawtucket.

Pedroia agreed. He got over a few butterflies on Saturday night, making a few plays in the field and running hard down the line for an infield hit.

"I was nervous I wouldn't be OK physically," said Pedroia, who worked hard while on the disabled list, even fielding grounders while sitting in a chair, a boot on his broken foot, as he tried to return to the lineup as soon as possible.

"Now that I am, I'm just going to try to win games. I don't care how I do. I just want to win," said Pedroia.

And don't think Pedroia's going to request a little DH duty to give himself a breather every now and then. David Ortiz can have that role, as far as Pedroia is concerned.

"I hated it," Pedroia said of his DH stint. "It's not fun. You sit around. I've always played defense my entire life. That's different."

As for the Red Sox, they will look more like themselves heading down the stretch, with 43 games left and a playoff berth at stake. The Sox have been plagued by injuries all season, and while first baseman Kevin Youkilis (thumb, out for season) and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (side, 15-day DL) are still out, at least Boston's spark plug will be back.

The fans at McCoy Stadium wished him luck, lining the exit as Pedroia left the stadium.

"Pedey, you the man," yelled one young fan.

Pedroia got into a car and headed north for Boston where he belongs -- and is needed in the Red Sox lineup.