- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Dustin Pedroia's last comeback lasted just two games before he was headed for surgery and a screw was inserted in his fractured left foot.
Almost 5½ months later, the Boston Red Sox second baseman jauntily pronounced himself good to go, pledging that this go-round "there won't be any setbacks."
With his balding pate sporting more hair, inspiring manager Terry Francona to ask, "Where's [actor] Giovanni Ribisi?," Pedroia showed up on a rainy morning here Friday and took some swings in the batting cage, wearing the same protective pad over his foot that he used last August during his abortive comeback.
"I've taken ground balls, I've turned double plays, I've run the bases, I've done everything," Pedroia said. "I'm ready to go.
"My foot's repaired, there's a screw in there holding it together. It's a ton better. There's not going be any setbacks."
No need, he said, to go see another doctor after a rehab stint that began just over a month after his Sept. 3 surgery.
"Doctor's in Boston," he said. "He can come and see me, how about that?"
No more MRIs, either.
"I've had about 50 of 'em," he said. "If they haven't figured it out by now ..."
Both Francona and general manager Theo Epstein said they planned to take a conservative approach with Pedroia this spring. The idea, Epstein said, was to get him ready for Opening Day, "not the college exhibitions."
Pedroia said he didn't know if that meant playing in fewer games here. "I don't think that's necessary," he said. ''Whatever they have planned for me, I'm ready to do."
One thing he will skip, he said, is the 300-yard shuttle run that is a staple of camp.
"They won't let me do that," he said. "I think that's pretty much it. No reason for me to run the 300-yard shuttle until they tell me I have to run 300 yards in a game."
Pedroia played in just 75 games last season, batting .288 with 12 home runs in 302 at-bats. He fouled a ball off his foot in San Francisco on June 25, one night after he let loose in spectacular fashion in Colorado, going 5 for 5 with three home runs.
He said he was "real excited" about a lineup that this season will include new additions Adrian Gonzalez, with whom he chatted Friday, and Carl Crawford, who he knows from working three or four offseasons with at the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona.
Crawford told USA Today that he couldn't wait to play with Pedroia, referring to him as "that little firecracker." Relayed Crawford's comment, Pedroia was in midseason form on the "Laser Show" scale.
"What a shocker," he said. "I've put some whuppings on him in Ping Pong. I talked a lot of trash with him.
"I'm glad he's on our team. It was a pain in the butt playing against him -- he's running wild. It's going to be fun having him on our side."
Pedroia this winter had expressed some frustration with how the foot felt physically, but he dismissed those concerns Friday.
"What I was trying to say is when you have an injury like that, you try to find ways that make you feel right," he said. "There are so many different areas of the foot, I gotta get my leg back to normal. Some of the things I was trying to do weren't the right things to do, but we found a way to make me feel strong. I feel great right now."
He said Francona hasn't spoken with him about where he will hit in the lineup, an assertion that might be stretching credulity, given their closeness. "I don't care," he said. "I don't think anyone cares."
But he didn't let the manager off the hook for his "Ribisi" crack.
"I don't know what Tito is starting," he said. "He poured water on himself to pretend he was working out, like he was sweating. I might kick his [butt] before we get started."
As for the new look ["Sick, huh?"], Pedroia was as defiant as ever.
"Jokes are cool when I'm 20 and I'm losing my hair, but I'm a grown-ass man now," he said. "I think it looks solid.
"My wife likes it."
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
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