Pedroia in lineup after welcoming baby

Pedroia in lineup after welcoming baby

TORONTO -- Two days after the birth of his first child, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was in good spirits and back in the second slot of the lineup on Thursday for the finale of the Red Sox's three-game series against the Blue Jays.

"He's awesome," Pedroia said of baby Dylan. "It's pretty awesome to be able to take your first son home and just enjoy the time with him, the first couple of days."

Pedroia left Toronto early Tuesday afternoon to fly back to Boston, and arrived in time to be with his wife, Kelli, who gave birth to a healthy seven-pound baby. The second baseman rejoined the team on Thursday afternoon.

Pedroia was voted the starting second baseman in this year's All-Star Game, but missed the event when Kelli went into labor prematurely and was hospitalized.

"My wife went through kind of a tough nine months, but the ending worked out great," Pedroia said. "He's healthy and she's healthy, so it's been awesome."

With the right-handed-hitting Pedroia back with the team, Red Sox manager Terry Francona shuffled the lineup a little bit. Right fielder J.D. Drew, who bats left-handed, hit second in Pedroia's absence and was moved down to eighth with the second baseman's return.

Francona's goal was to draw up a lineup that featured a balance of left-handed and right-handed hitters against Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil. The only consecutive hitters to bat from the same side of the plate were Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay, the fourth and fifth batters.

"With Pedey back, this is one of the few times in a long time where we've had Victor [Martinez] catching and everybody healthy," Francona said. "So it allows us to -- especially with a left-hander -- create a little bit of balance and move some guys down, which is good."

After an exciting few days, Pedroia, who is hitting .295 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs, was relieved that both Kelli and Dylan were doing well, allowing him to concentrate on the task at hand -- keeping his team ahead of Texas in the tight American League Wild Card race.

"I'm focused on the game," Pedroia said. "We'll go home tonight and I'll get to see him again.

"My wife went into labor at seven months and she held off this long, so I don't have much to worry about now, other than taking care of the both of them at home and coming out here and helping us win games."

Erika Gilbert is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.