Pedroia on track for Thursday return

Pedroia on track for Thursday return

BOSTON -- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia could return from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, just in time to play against the White Sox and former teammate Kevin Youkilis, according to Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.

Pedroia has been on the DL with a right thumb strain since July 6, retroactive to July 4, and is making strides in batting practice. He sprayed the ball around Fenway Park on Monday afternoon before Boston's series opener against Chicago.

"He truly feels great and watching him hit, it's different right now," Valentine said. "I think he's on track."

In Valentine's view, Pedroia's swing looks like it did during the first few weeks of the season when the second baseman hit .313 in his first 19 games.

"That's what it looks like and in talking to [Pedroia] today, that's what it feels like, " the manager said.

Pedroia would be the third key Red Sox player to return from injury after the All-Star break. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury rejoined the club after missing three months with a separated shoulder on Friday. Left fielder Carl Crawford made his season debut on Monday.