Dustin Pedroia to try thumb brace

Updated: May 30, 2012, 5:01 AM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia has a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb, Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday night, and for the time being, the second baseman has not been placed on the 15-day disabled list.

But while Pedroia remained hopeful that a trip to the DL could be avoided, he acknowledged that if he is unable to hit with a protective device for the thumb, he probably will be out for "three or four weeks."

[+] EnlargeDustin Pedroia
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaDustin Pedroia, watching Tuesday's game from the Red Sox dugout, said he could miss up to four weeks if he can't play with a padded brace on his thumb.

"Right now we're waiting to see how I feel the next couple of days," Pedroia said. "My swelling has gone down, the bruising in my thumb has gone down, so we'll just wait and see if I can play."

The adductor muscle runs from the thumb to the palm of the hand and controls the inward movement of the thumb toward the palm, obviously essential to a player's ability to grip a bat.

"He has some tearing in the muscle belly of the adductor muscle," Cherington said, "and it's pretty clear it can be treated conservatively. It's just a matter of making sure before he goes back out there that we're protecting him the best we can, where he's not putting himself at any undue risk and he's in a position to be the player he always is."

Cherington insisted that while third baseman Kevin Youkilis had a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb in 2010 and ultimately required season-ending surgery, missing the team's final 56 games, Pedroia's injury should respond conservatively.

"That word [surgery] was never used in any conversation we had today," Cherington said, "so that's not on the radar.

"Youkilis' [injury] involved the tendon attachment to the bone, where it pulled off the bone. So there's a pretty clear difference in the injury. This was in the muscle belly. There was tearing in the muscle belly, but there's no involvement with the bone or the tendon pulling off the bone."

Pedroia underwent an MRI on Tuesday morning, the results of which were analyzed by team orthopedist Dr. Peter Asnis and also sent to Dr. Donald Sheridan, the Arizona orthopedist who had performed surgery to repair the hamate bone in Pedroia's wrist in 2007.

After Tuesday night's 6-3 win over the Detroit Tigers, Pedroia went into manager Bobby Valentine's office, where he met with Valentine, Cherington, Asnis, assistant GM Brian O'Halloran and trainer Rick Jameyson.

Pedroia emerged first from the meeting and told reporters of his injury. Asked whether the team had asked him to go on the DL, he said, "We've been talking about it. I heal quick. I guess that's a good thing. Hopefully I don't have to go on the DL and can help the team as fast as I can.

"I don't have to show anything. I've played with injuries before. It's a matter of me being able to swing with a brace on it or something. I'll get something made, see how it feels. If I can't do it, I think it's three or four weeks. Hopefully it's not that."

Pedroia, who had started all 48 of the team's games until sitting out Tuesday, said he first jammed the thumb while hitting three weeks ago and aggravated the condition Monday night on his last at-bat, when he popped out.

In that respect, there is a similarity to what Youkilis experienced in 2010. The Red Sox infielder, who was the team's first baseman at the time, said he had initially jammed his thumb hitting and tried to play through the injury for a couple of weeks, wearing a thumb guard, until the pain became too severe. Four days later, he underwent surgery.

Cherington acknowledged Tuesday night there was a chance Pedroia could do further damage to the thumb by playing. The risk-reward component of allowing him to play must be weighed, Cherington said.

"We spent a lot of time talking to him, talking to the doctors about how to deal with it," Cherington said. "Obviously, with a guy as important to the team as he is, we're always hopeful to avoid the DL. We haven't made a decision yet.

"If there's a way to manage it safely, where it's in his best interest, the team's best interest, and we could do it in a way that makes sense, we'll try to avoid the DL. But no decision tonight."

Cherington said the team's medical and training staff will try to fashion a brace-like device to protect the thumb.

"We'll get started on that tomorrow, to see what they can do to build it, protect it," he said. "It will be a combination of padding and a way to stabilize the thumb so at impact there will be less trauma on that area."

If Pedroia goes on the DL, he will be the 17th Red Sox player to do so, the second with a thumb injury. Andrew Bailey, projected to be the team's closer in spring training, tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb in a freak collision at first base.

Pedroia missed 85 games in the 2010 season after he fouled a ball off his left foot, fracturing the navicular bone. He first missed 44 games, played two games, then shut it down for the rest of the season, undergoing surgery.

"He's an amazing guy; he's an amazing healer," Valentine said. "And sometimes he wills things. His mind right now is probably on the side of playing. I'm going to give it another day, or even two, to see how he feels."

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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