By Sean McAdam
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After suffering a broken bone in his foot last June, Dustin Pedroia played only two more games for the rest of the 2010 season.
Saturday, Pedroia will return to competition as the Red Sox begin their exhibition schedule and the fact the opponent will be a college team -- Boston College -- surely won't take away any of his enthusiasm.
"I'm excited," said Pedroia. "My biggest thing is to get out there and just get in the flow of the game and make sure I'm healthy and feel good -- and just see pitches, just like any normal game, the first game I'm out there. Just see pitches, get used to everything and that's it. I just can't wait. It's going to be fun."
Pedroia is one of a handful of players who had their 2010 interrupted by injuries. Teammates Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron and Kevin Youkilis all missed significant time.
But because there is at least the potential for post-surgery complications on Pedroia's foot, there will be more attention paid to his return.
"I'm moving around good," said Pedroia. "I feel good and I'm just excited to be out there. It's going to be fun. It's been a long time. I've put a lot of hard work in getting back and it should be fun. I'm just like everybody else right now."
Two key off-season acquisitions will have their debuts pushed back some.
Carl Crawford will not take part in either of the two seven-inning games the Red Sox have scheduled -- the first against BC and the nightcap against Northeastern.
Crawford has been given permission to return home to Houston Saturday to take care of a personal business matter. Crawford will return to southwest Florida Sunday, but likely won't play Sunday night in the first Grapefruit League match against Minnesota. It's expected that he will play Monday, also against the Twins.
"He's going to get enough reps,'' said bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who ran the final workout while manager Terry Francona attended to a personal matter. "As we get further into spring training, the workload gets heavier for the starters.''
Meanwhile, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is still about two weeks away from seeing game action.
Gonzalez hit off a tee for the third time this week, taking 45 swings off the tee.
Saturday morning, Gonzalez will hit "flips'' or, soft tosses from close-by. He'll repeat that a few times before graduating to regular batting practice, live batting practice, and eventually, games.
The Sox announced some further pitching assignments for the first few games.
Stolmy Pimentel will start against BC, followed to the mound by Michael Bowden, Jason Rice, Clevelan Santeliz, Matt Fox and Randy Williams.
Saturday night, the Sox will start Kyle Weiland, followed by Alex Wilson, Rich Hill, Tony Pena Jr. and Matt Albers.
On Sunday, the Sox plan to start Josh Beckett, Others slated for work: Clay Buchholz, Brandon Duckworth, Hideki Okajima, Scott Achison and Dan Wheeler.
The Twins play the Sox once again Monday, when Boston will send Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard to the mound.
Finally, when the Sox and Twins play for a third straight day Tuesday, the pitchers will include Jon Lester and Alfredo Aceves.