Dustin Pedroia predicts big things for 2015

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- It’s not often an owner gets to do some trash-talking about a player, and Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner wasn’t about to pass up the chance. That’s how Dustin Pedroia found himself on the other end of a pingpong table facing one of his bosses at Saturday’s “Baseball Winter Weekend" at Foxwoods.

"They kind of blind-sided me with that," Pedroia said. "I haven’t played in like three years, but they said the owner’s playing and he’s telling TV he’s going to kick your ass, so I guess I’d better get down there.

"I played with him for a little bit, then I got my timing down and started spanking balls."

Clearly, a three-year layoff didn’t affect his forehand smash as Pedroia disposed of Werner. And now, after two straight years of surgery on his left hand related to his thumb, the Red Sox second baseman unabashedly predicts that baseballs will be jumping off his bat the way they did before he was hurt.

"The big difference, I got a chance to lift weights," Pedroia said. "My upper body, it’s been awhile. It kind of shriveled up, you know. Not anymore.

"That's part of what makes me good, being able to work out in the offseason and build up, maintain it over the year and always stay on my lifting program. Last year I couldn’t lift a dumbbell. I lifted [with] my legs. My legs were strong, defensively I was fine because my legs were strong. But the upper body, if you can’t do the things you want to do, you’re not going to have the bat speed you normally have. That’s changed."

Pedroia’s offense has declined in each of the past four seasons, from an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .861 in 2011 to .797 in 2012, .787 in 2013 and a career-low .712 last season, which ended for him Sept. 11 when he underwent an operation on his left hand with the cumbersome name of FirstDorsal Compartment Release with Tenosynovectomy. The surgery is designed to relieve something known as De Quervain's tenosynovitis, a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, a person with De Quervain's will experience pain with every turn of the wrist, while making a fist or trying to grasp something. The condition developed after Pedroia tore a ligament in his left thumb in the opening game of 2013, an injury with which he played while missing just two games the entire season.

Pedroia declared he is fully recovered. "I’m ready, ready to go," he said. "Everything, man. If it started tomorrow, I’d be good.

"I’m very excited. Obviously after last year, we didn’t play very well. We’ve got a lot of stuff to prove."

Manager John Farrell had suggested this winter that the team might look to give Pedroia a little more rest than in the past, but the player wasn’t hearing of it.

"I plan on playing 162," Pedroia said. "He said that because my numbers were impacted by that [last season]. I started 178 games [in 2013, including playoffs] with a torn thumb. Obviously I’m human. The next year you’re going to have a tough time.

"[But] I’m back. My body’s back. I feel strong. I’m lifting. Everything is right back to normal."

General manager Ben Cherington had said during the winter meetings that when he spoke with Pedroia, the player told him he was going to hit .460, a Pedroia-esque type declaration.

"That's probably hearsay, man," Pedroia shot back Saturday. "I only talked to him once. I don’t know, I might have hit him with a ball."

But Pedroia said he already has been hitting with authority in the offseason, and he expects even better results this spring.

"The ball’s going to go farther," he said. “The balls are going 400 feet now -- and then, when you add five miles an hour, I’m not a chemist or anything, it’s probably going to go 500."

The message, then, for the folks who sit on the Green Monster?

"Duck," he said.