FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Dustin Pedroia says if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn't have had the knee surgery after the 2017 season that sidelined him for all but three games in 2018.
"No, I wouldn't have done it. I don't regret doing it, but looking back and knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have done it," the Boston Red Sox second baseman said Friday.
After playing through discomfort in 2017, Pedroia had a cartilage restoration procedure on his left knee that involved grafting cartilage from a cadaver to fit in the damaged area.
Pedroia was expected to miss the first two months of the 2018 season and did return on May 26, but he played just three games, went 1-for-11 and spent the rest of the season on the injured list. In retrospect, Pedroia says he came back too soon.
"I think the difference was last year everyone wanted me to come back better than I was before, instead of just coming back," he said. "I might have pushed it too hard or done too much, but as far as following directions, I followed every step. I think some of the directions were, timing wise, a little off."
Instead of surgery, Pedroia could have pursued different types of rehab or treatment after surgery to repair a torn meniscus after the 2016 season. He opted instead for the cartilage restoration.
"It's a complicated surgery," he said. "The cartilage in my knee is great now, but the graft is the thing. You're putting somebody else's bone in your body. To get that to incorporate fully, there are so many things that, going into it, I didn't know all that stuff. I thought, 'They were like, you tore this, we can fix it. Great.'"
Pedroia, 35, was able to rest this offseason and reported to camp early. The 2007 American League Rookie of the Year and 2008 league MVP says the knee feels good and he looks forward to the first full-squad workout on Monday.
"The human body can only take so much, so you have to let it heal," he said. "When I started going again, it was tough, but it wasn't like the year before. Maybe that's why I feel so good now. I healed up, got some rest, my body is recovered and I'm excited."
In 2016, Pedroia hit .318/.376/.449 in 154 games. In 2017, playing with the sore knee, he hit .293/.369/.392 but played just one game in August and hit .242 in September. He'll be full go once workouts begin.
"I don't have any restrictions," he said. "I just have to be smart. I don't need to take a hundred ground balls. I need to take the amount that gets me ready for the game and then stop. Just limit the time on my feet and make sure I'm always staying on top of things to keep me healthy."
On Wednesday, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said the team's plan would be to limit Pedroia to 120 games or so. The Red Sox also have Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez as options at second base.