- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Just days after breaking his left foot on a foul ball, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was out on the infield at Fenway Park taking ground balls on his knees before Wednesday's game against the Rays.
"I failed miserably," manager Terry Francona said about being able to keep Pedroia under control. "He's a maniac. He knows he can't put any weight on that foot and he knows he's going to slow himself down if he does, so he'll abide by the rules, but he'll bend them as much as he can."
"He's going to do everything in his power to be ready to go when the bell rings, whenever that is," Francona said. "That's what makes him so special. He's unique."
Pedroia, sporting a walking cast and crutches, asked teammate John Lackey for help up the dugout steps.
"What are you doing?" asked Lackey.
"Going to take ground balls. I'm polishing the machine," responded the All-Star second baseman.
"You're crazy," said Lackey.
With that Pedroia made his way out to the grass in front of second base, tossed his crutches to the ground, grabbed his glove and yelled to third base coach Tim Bogar to grab a fungo bat. Pedroia dropped to his knees and took five minutes of grounders, simulating a drill infielders usually do during spring training.
The medical staff has told him he can't put any weight on his left foot for the next three weeks, and he's expected to miss a total of six before he can return to game action. Pedroia can't wait that long and said he hopes to be back a lot sooner.
"I hope so," he said. "I'm really bored. If we keep winning I'll be fine. If we start losing I might panic and start walking."
"You never know, in three weeks I might be able to walk and feel real good," he said. "I'm doing my treatment a thousands times and hopefully it doesn't take six weeks and I'll be back sooner than that. That's my goal."
When word made its way around the clubhouse that Pedroia was taking grounders, most of his teammates were shocked but not surprised.
"He did what?" asked first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "He better slow down, but it's definitely mentality-wise for him because he's baseball 24/7. We might have to recommend he stay home with his wife and son, Dylan. It's tough. He loves the games. It might not be the best thing for him to take ground balls right now, he needs to slow down a little bit and give it time. He'll be back before he knows it."
Youkilis has spent time on the DL in his career, so he knows exactly how Pedroia feels.
"Playing baseball is great. Watching baseball sucks," Youkilis said.
After Pedroia was done taking fungos, he hobbled onto the lower concourse with fans walking by him, jumped in a golf cart and asked a security guard for the keys because he had a radio interview to do.
When he concluded the interview, and returned the golf cart, he made his way back to his locker.
"I'm going to milk this," he said jokingly as he walked to the trainer's room with his crutches. "No, man, I'm trying to get off these things as fast as possible."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
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