CHICAGO -- In that carousel known as the Red Sox's walking wounded, Dustin Pedroia returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday night and hit in the leadoff spot while Mike Napoli was out of action for the first time this season with a dislocated left ring finger.
Pedroia had been sidelined with inflammation in his left wrist for the past two games, but he actually came off the bench Tuesday to pinch-run for the injured Napoli.
With the Red Sox out of players, Pedroia even played an inning of defense in the bottom of the ninth, in preparation for Wednesday's return to action.
"I feel good," said Pedroia. "I only missed a game and a half. It's a lot better than what it could be."
Over the next few days, Pedroia will just try to be as smart as he can so that the wrist can fully recover.
"It was just sore for a week or something," said Pedroia. "I got the shot to calm everything down. It feels good today. I have to limit my swings in the cage and things like that. Once the game starts, I'm normal."
As for Napoli, his injury is also much better than it could have been. When the first baseman bent his finger all the way back on a headfirst dive, there was fear that he had suffered a break, which would have sidelined him for at least a month.
"I'm definitely tender, which was probably expected from what I did to it," said Napoli. "As I'm doing treatment and contrast [between ice and heat] and trying to get that swelling out of there, it's feeling better and better as I go. I'm going to do as much treatment on it as possible and probably contrast [between ice and heat] every couple of hours."
Napoli expects to be back in the lineup soon -- he just isn't sure exactly when.
"I don't know," said Napoli. "We'll see. Just go day to day to see how I'm feeling that day to see what I can do. I'm going to go play catch and maybe I can have some late-inning defense or something. Just baby steps, just trying to see what I can do and whatever I can do, I'm going to do to try to help the team."