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Notes: Pedroia feeling confident

Notes: Pedroia feeling confident

PHILADELPHIA -- Dustin Pedroia made his Major League debut on Aug. 22, 2006, and he responded by hitting .191 in 89 at-bats.

Though the diminutive second baseman hit just .211 with three extra-base hits in Spring Training, he's remained extremely positive heading into the regular season.

"I've just continued to work on the little things," said Pedroia, who hit a solo home run off Phillies starter Cole Hamels on Friday and added a two-run single on Saturday. "It's not like I have big changes to make. It's about coming to work every day and continuing to get better. I feel good about the season."

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All three of Pedroia's extra-base hits in Spring Training were doubles. Was it refreshing to see him blast a homer?

"I'd love to see guys hit all the time," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I don't think his confidence is struggling."

Pedroia has a five-game hitting streak that spans three Grapefruit League games as well as two On-Deck Series games. As the Red Sox prepare for their season opener Monday at Kansas City, Pedroia believes he's ready to contribute.

"I don't want to put any added pressure on myself," said Pedroia. "I've just got to go out and do what I do. If I do that, I'll be fine."

He sure seemed fine on Friday, wearing No. 15 instead of No. 64, a number usually reserved for a player who's expected to be sent to the Minor Leagues.

"I didn't think the number switch was that big of a deal, but, hey, I hit a homer," said Pedroia. "Let's keep the good hitting going."

Stay healthy: Francona was asked what he was looking for in the final exhibition game.

"Health, that's the biggest one," Francona said. "Let's get out of here intact, feeling good about [ourselves] as much as possible."

The boos will never stop: J.D. Drew joked that the booing wasn't all that loud on Friday.

"They can do better than that," he quipped.

It's amazing that a decade has nearly gone by, and Drew is still among the most disliked visiting players in Philadelphia. He was drafted by the Phillies in the first round -- the second overall pick -- of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, but would not sign.

After opting to play in the independent Northern League, he was then taken fifth overall by the Cardinals in the 1998 draft.

"They don't forget here, I guess," Drew said. "It's way in the past. I guess as long as I'm playing, they'll give me the treatment."

Drew responded by crushing a solo home run to center field on Friday.

Role players: Francona said it's vital to find playing time early in the season for valuable reserves like Wily Mo Pena and Eric Hinske.

He just doesn't know how the playing time will pan out.

"They need to play at some point," Francona said. "I can't tell you when yet, because I don't know."

See ya: The Red Sox hit just 15 home runs in 29 games in Spring Training. They laced four homers in five innings on Friday and added shots by David Ortiz and Jason Varitek on Saturday.

"I think guys were just relaxed," Drew said. "They can sense the season getting ready. It was a good thing to see."

Coming up: After an off day on Sunday, the Red Sox will open the 2007 season on Monday at Kansas City. Right-hander Curt Schilling (15-7, 3.97 ERA in '06) will oppose Kansas City's Gil Meche (11-8, 4.48 ERA in '06 with Seattle) at 4:10 p.m. ET. This is the fifth straight time and the 11th time in the last 12 years that the Red Sox have opened on the road. The Red Sox are 51-54-1 on Opening Day and 30-37-1 in season openers away from Fenway Park.

Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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