BOSTON — Thursday's series finale against the Tigers is likely to be preceded by some important action on the field at Fenway Park.
Mookie Betts (abdominal strain) and Dustin Pedroia (left knee inflammation) are expected to perform baseball activities prior to the 7:10 p.m. first pitch. Betts could take batting practice after hitting off a tee on Tuesday and doing more indoor work in the batting cage early Wednesday. Pedroia received treatment on Wednesday after a reassuring visit to his New York surgeon the previous morning.
Betts is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list this weekend, but he’s discussed the idea of a brief rehab assignment with Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The outfielder hasn’t played since a May 26 win over the Braves and still leads Boston in seven major offensive categories, including doubles (19), runs scored (52) and stolen bases (13).
“We’ll make that decision when it comes down to it,” Cora said. “He mentioned it yesterday. Whatever he needs to get his timing and for him to be OK.”
Pedroia is unlikely to play for an affiliate in the near future, with Cora acknowledging the second baseman could be limited going forward. Pedroia played in just five rehab games for Triple-A Pawtucket and three with the Red Sox before being scratched from a scheduled Thursday start at the Astros.
“He’s going to have to battle through it,” Cora said. “We knew that this is part of what was going to happen with him. We expected it to be sooner. It’s major surgery.”
Andrew Benintendi’s recent hot streak and the continued rampage by J.D. Martinez have helped provide cover for Betts atop the lineup. Brock Holt has hit in 10 of 16 games since coming off the disabled list May 9 and Eduardo Nunez carried a six-game hitting streak into Wednesday night, filling in ably for Pedroia at second.
“Eduardo is swinging the bat a lot better, and at second he’s been a lot better lately just making the plays,” Cora said. “We’ve got Brock. We should be fine.”
Devers looks to break through
Rafael Devers scratched out an infield single in his first at-bat on Wednesday night, perhaps the sort of break he requires to snap out of a recent funk.
The third baseman hasn’t homered since May 22 and is slashing just .150/.227/.225 in that span, covering 11 games. Devers has also struck out multiple times in four games, including a hat trick in Saturday’s 5-4 win over the Astros.
“He’s struggling right now,” Cora said. “He’s working on a few things in the cage. We understand who he is, how old he is.”
Cora noted that Devers, at 21, would be among the youngest players at Class-A Salem, Boston’s Carolina League affiliate. Those Red Sox have three pitchers born after Devers and no position players.
“I think that’s where the game is going,” Cora said. “If organizations think these young people can contribute and help you win ballgames, they’ll call them up. It’s on us to keep teaching the game and at the same time putting them in situations where they’re going to be successful and contribute.”
Setback for Maddox
Austin Maddox (right shoulder) had his rehab assignment shut down and remains on the disabled list with Boston. He’s receiving treatment with team medical staff members, and there’s no timetable for his return. “He wasn’t able to bounce back,” Cora said. “Velocity was down.” … The Red Sox finished the Major League Baseball draft with 30 more selections on Wednesday. Boston bookended its picks with William Mason (Ohio) pitcher Nicholas Northcut in the 11th round and LSU outfielder Zach Watson in the 40th round. Both players were rated among MLB.com's top-100 pre-draft prospects.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25