DENVER -- His name was written in pen on a sign over his locker. His Boston jerseys neatly dangled inside on hangers.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was back with the Red Sox -- if only for a quick visit. He hobbled through the clubhouse Tuesday on crutches, his surgically repaired left knee on the mend.
Pedroia really doesn't think about hitting so much these days as simply not hurting. He's hoping the latest surgery on his troublesome knee allows him to throw batting practice with his kids pain-free one day. That's really the extent of the plans for the 36-year-old Pedroia, who has been limited to nine games over the past two seasons.
Still, he wanted to drop by just to chat with his teammates as they opened a two-game interleague series at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies. Earlier this month, doctors removed bone spurs and performed a knee joint preservation procedure in Vail, Colorado.
Taking the field again? For now, that's down the priority list.
"It would be nice to not hurt first," said Pedroia, who has fond memories of Coors Field given that's where the Red Sox clinched the 2007 World Series. "One step at a time. Hopefully, it works out."
Pedroia has been watching his teammates on television and checking in with them through texts. But there's nothing like catching up in person.
"It's good to have him back, have him around. Everybody in here has missed him greatly," left-hander David Price said. "He's left everything he's had out there on that baseball field for the Boston Red Sox. To see him right now, it's tough. But he tells me he's on the right path to getting better.
"Whether or not he plays baseball again, he's held in very high regard with everybody in this clubhouse."
Pedroia's voice has been missed in the clubhouse for the defending World Series champions, who entered the day six back for the final AL wild-card spot.
"He's good to have around," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "He's part of this team regardless of where he is."
Pedroia said he will be on crutches for another two weeks. After that, he begins a 12-week program to strengthen his quadriceps and calf. Only then will he get an idea if baseball is in his future.
"Everyone knows how I love playing and being here and everything," said Pedroia, a lifetime .299 hitter for a franchise that picked him in the second round of the 2004 draft. "So I just try to lean on the guys and my family to get me through the tough times. I'm lucky to have all of them."
This was the latest of several surgeries Pedroia has had on the knee since he got hurt taking a hard slide from Manny Machado in 2017. Pedroia said in May he would take an indefinite leave of absence in his long struggle to recover from the knee issues.
"He gave everything he had to baseball," Price said. "Hopefully he can get back healthy enough to do the things he loves."