TORONTO -- Dustin Pedroia continues to test and rehabilitate his injured right thumb, though it isn't yet clear when the Boston Red Sox second baseman will be able to return to action. After taking ground balls on Friday, Pedroia took batting practice before Saturday's game, his first time swinging using a brace fitted to his bats to lessen the strain on his thumb.
"[Pedroia] is feeling a little better. It's just to make sure that his body is in tune," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "We don't think he's going to be swinging really hard. Plus we'll see how the brace fits."
Pedroia wasn't in Saturday's lineup and looks set to miss his fifth consecutive game since suffering the torn adductor muscle in the thumb of his throwing hand. Valentine admitted "it's a little tough" to be playing with a short bench but said that the team was still waiting to see if they avoid sending yet another star player to the disabled list.
"A decision hasn't been made," Valentine said. "We're going to get how he gets through the weekend and see where he is progress-wise."
The injury-plagued Red Sox have sent 16 players to the disabled list this season, accounting for 579 total lost games. This run of bad health has forced Valentine to be creative with his lineups and to get as much as he can from his fit players. David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez are the only two Boston players who have appeared in all 52 games and both were in Saturday's lineup, with Gonzalez getting another start in right field.
While Gonzalez has now started nine of Boston's last 14 games in right, this is the first time in his career that he has played on an artificial surface as an outfielder. Valentine didn't anticipate any issues from starting Gonzalez on the less-forgiving Rogers Centre outfield.
"I'll just ask him how he feels," Valentine said. "Turf seems to affect the guys who have the lower-back and hamstring situations most, and I don't think he's ever come up with such a thing."
Valentine had hinted that Daniel Nava would receive an off-day on Saturday, but Nava was back in the lineup again, a day after stroking a career-high four hits in Boston's 7-2 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night.
Nava has played in all 22 games since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 10. He has developed into another player that Valentine cannot do without, as Friday's four-hit game was merely the latest highlight in a season that has been Nava post a .314/.444/.543 batting line in his three-plus weeks with the Sox.
With no game scheduled for Monday, Valentine said that Nava could sit on Sunday, feeling that "maybe two [days off] would be better than one."
Mark Polishuk is a special contributor to ESPNBoston.com.