BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia is on track to come off the disabled list on Thursday against the White Sox, the first day he is eligible.
Pedroia's return comes at just the right time for the Red Sox, who placed slugger David Ortiz on the DL on Wednesday with a strained right Achilles tendon. Pedroia has been on the DL since July 6 with a strained right thumb.
"He said he was ready about four days ago," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "He's such an important part of our team, so much fun to watch play, that for his psyche as well as ours I hope he gets back in tomorrow."
In Pedroia's absence, the Red Sox welcomed back outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford from injury. Since Crawford's season debut on Monday, he's hit second behind Ellsbury in three straight games.
Pedroia has batted second in 61 of his 74 starts this season.
"I don't know that we'll have a lineup every day that's the same since we haven't had a lineup that's the same since the beginning of the year and we're second in the league in runs scored," Valentine said. "I don't think you need to worry about where someone is hitting in the lineup."
Still, Valentine could keep Ellsbury and Crawford at the top of the order.
"I don't know if it's tempting, but it seems logical," the manager said. "We'll see."