Dustin Pedroia back in lineup

NEW YORK -- Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was in the lineup Tuesday against the New York Yankees despite a broken finger on his left hand that the team thought would sideline him for the final two games of the season.

"I like playing; it's fine," Pedroia told reporters before the game. "Shoot, I get to compete two more games and then I have to sit around six months and wait until I get to do it again. I've got nothing else to do other than play football with a 3-year-old."

Pedroia did not play Monday, and it was assumed he would miss the remainder of the regular season. But Pedroia indicated to ESPNBoston.com late Monday night that he would see how his finger felt Tuesday and "try to get out there."

Pedroia went 2-for-5, including a double, RBI and run scored in a two-run first inning, in the Red Sox's 12-inning 4-3 loss.

Pedroia said Tuesday that a doctor told him he could play depending on the pain, adding, "It doesn't hurt so bad."

"The training room said Dustin was OK after they said he wasn't OK yesterday," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said before Tuesday's game. "Actually, yesterday, he was in the lineup when I got here. Dustin went down to try and swing and he couldn't swing, so therefore, he was not in the lineup."

Valentine said he had been assured that Pedroia cannot injure himself more by playing. "They said it's only, and I'm quoting only, a pain-tolerance situation."

Asked if he was impressed that Pedroia insisted on playing the final two games of a lost season, Valentine said, "I don't care about the situation. If anyone has been watching, and I'm sure everyone has, how can you miss it? Dustin always does more than you could ever expect anyone to do on a baseball field, whether it's running to first, fielding a ball or mounting up for that day's activity, he's extraordinary

"Was I surprised when I got the text that said he said he's fine? I fell off my bike. Literally. And I don't know why I was surprised."

"We've got a lot of young guys on our team," Pedroia said. "Sometimes you get nicked up, stuff like that is part of the job, you get beat up sliding into bases, get your finger stepped on, whatever. They know that I'm going to be out there and they should be out there, too, if it happens to them. It's a team."

Pedroia also wanted to show critics that the Red Sox, who had lost six in a row heading into Tuesday and 10 of their last 11, are not simply playing out the string.

"We're playing to win," said Pedroia, who said will wear a protective device on the finger. "Not like you all think, that we're packing it in. We're not packing it in."

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, whose team is fighting the Yankees for the AL East title, appreciated Pedroia's effort.

"I already had high respect for him. This takes it to another level," Hardy told Foxsports.com in Tampa. Baltimore is one game behind New York entering play Tuesday.

Pedroia acknowledged it has been difficult to see the Red Sox fall so far. Heading into play Tuesday, they were 69-91, last place in the AL East.

"Nobody likes losing; we want to win," he said. "Tough to lose 90 games, 91 games. Something we're not going to be happy about and we're going to do whatever we can that it doesn't happen again."

The Red Sox called the injury an avulsion fracture of the ring finger of his left hand. The injury is expected to heal without surgery.

With the Red Sox trailing by three runs in the top of the eighth inning Sunday in Baltimore, Pedroia attempted to steal second base. He was gunned down by catcher Matt Wieters and jammed the ring finger on his left hand into the bag.

Pedroia's season was hampered by multiple injuries to his right thumb. On May 28, he tore the adductor muscle in the thumb. He did not go on the disabled list, although he missed seven games and his performance at the plate suffered noticeably.

On July 3, Pedroia hyperextended the same thumb while diving for a ball in Oakland and was placed on the disabled list. There had been concern that he would miss considerable time with the injury, but he returned after just 15 days.