With clearance, Pedroia to return next week

With clearance, Pedroia to return next week

TORONTO -- Calling it his best day since going on the disabled list with a fractured navicular bone in his left foot, Dustin Pedroia successfully passed all his running tests Tuesday in Toronto.

Pedroia simulated running out of the batter's box, and then he ran in a straight line. The second baseman will graduate to running the bases on Wednesday and Thursday, and he will see Red Sox foot specialist George Theodore on Friday in Boston.

If Pedroia gets clearance from Theodore, he will play for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday and Sunday, and start for the Red Sox next Tuesday at Fenway Park against the Angels.

"I feel like I could be out there, you know, so I just hope I wake up tomorrow and it's not big and I take a step back -- but I don't think it will be," Pedroia said. "I can turn double plays, but the only thing that worries me about that is a guy sliding into me and stuff like that. I'll do the best I can to get out of the way."

Pedroia, who works relentlessly during the offseason to gain the speed that makes him a stolen-base threat, realizes that he won't run quite the same until next season. But at a time when every game is crucial for the Red Sox, he just wants to be able to help his teammates win.

"I know the rest of the way is going to be tough, but we're at the point where we're trying to make a run and make the playoffs -- and try to win the whole thing, if we can," Pedroia said. "I know I'm not going to be as fast as I was earlier in the year, but I'll make that up in the offseason."

The Red Sox will regain one of their best players when Pedroia returns. He is a spark batting in the two-hole and a Gold Glove-caliber defender.

"Today was by far the best day," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It was one of those days where you kind of [improve by leaps and bounds]. I think we hoped that would be the case. Some days it's level, and then you have a day like today."

Pedroia is enthused by the progress he has made over the last week.

"I ran in cleats," Pedroia said. "That was the first time I sprinted in spikes. It felt good. I was kind of surprised. A week ago, I thought I was looking at September. I feel like I'm able to get in there."

But the final answer will come from his session with Theodore.

"I don't think I need to do another CT scan," Pedroia said. "He's going to push on the fracture and stuff like that. If he clears me to go, I'll play Saturday and Sunday [at Triple-A], and then we're off Monday and I'll play Tuesday."