TORONTO -- Dustin Pedroia took the first vital step toward a potential return to the lineup when he took batting practice on the field before Saturday's game against the Blue Jays.
The second baseman was diagnosed with a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb earlier this week and hasn't played since Monday. Both he and the Red Sox are hopeful that a stint on the disabled list can be avoided.
Pedroia took BP with a specially fitted brace on the thumb and appeared comfortable, spraying the ball to all parts of the field.
How did he feel it went?
"How did I look?" Pedroia said with a smile as he walked back to the clubhouse.
Manager Bobby Valentine said that the key will be whether the thumb swells up as a result of Saturday's efforts.
"If there's still anything in there, you'd think there would be swelling from the vibration," Valentine said.
Pedroia has also looked fine during defensive drills, including throwing.
"When he played catch, he played catch OK," Valentine said. "When he took ground balls, he took ground balls with the brace on, so there will be a little trouble doing that -- that was just to make sure the ball didn't hit him while he was taking ground balls. He has pretty good strength. He has the same strength in his right hand as in his left hand."
The earliest Pedroia could play is Tuesday, when the Red Sox open a homestand against the Orioles. If he isn't ready by then, he could be placed on the disabled list, a stint that could be backdated to May 29.
"The decision hasn't been made," Valentine said. "We're going to see how he gets through the weekend, where he is progress-wise."