Dustin Pedroia feels ready for opening day. Considering what it took to get to that point, the Boston Red Sox are erring on the side of caution.

Pedroia will miss Boston’s opener for the second straight season, staying in extended spring training to rehab his left knee, on which he had surgeries each of the past two offseasons. Pedroia, a key figure for the Red Sox during most of his 13-year career, believes he’s ready to go but understands why the reigning World Series champions are hesitant.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I don’t think the team was expecting me to come in and look the way I look, so they just want to make sure they do it right. That’s basically it. They’ve had to hold me back. I mean, I’m ready for opening day. It’s just that they’re scared. No one’s ever come back from something like this.”

The 2008 AL MVP started at second base against the split-squad Rays on Thursday night and will play in some of the remaining exhibition games in Florida and when Boston travels to Arizona to play the Cubs on Monday and Tuesday.

The team just isn’t confident he could be ready for the season opener March 28 against the Mariners in Seattle.

“We’re running out of time,” manager Alex Cora said. “There’s been no setbacks, nothing out of the ordinary. It’s just that we feel we need more time to do the back-to-backs, more innings. There’s no target date (for his activation).”

Cora wants to keep Pedroia progressing steadily. The 35-year-old Pedroia has three years remaining on a $110 million, eight-year contract, and Boston wants to get as many games out of him in that time as possible.

“This is not only for this year,” Cora said. “It’s a plan for three years. We need him to keep playing and he’ll be OK.”

“I feel like I’m ready, but they want to see how my knee responds when I (play back-to-back games),” Pedroia said. “Which I understand. I appreciate that. So, we’ll just go from there.”


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