MIAMI -- Bad news for Team USA, and potentially bad news for the Red Sox.
And maybe bad news, too, for the future of the World Baseball Classic.
Dustin Pedroia has a strained left oblique muscle, and is headed to Fort Myers to be examined by the Red Sox medical staff. Pedroia, the American League's most valuable player, was scratched from the U.S. starting lineup for Saturday night's game against Puerto Rico, and has been replaced on the Team USA roster by Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts.
"Hopefully, it's nothing serious," Pedroia said, before leaving Dolphin Stadium. "I'll be fine. I'm not concerned about the season."
Later Saturday night, the Red Sox announced that they don't expect Pedroia to miss a significant amount of time. Pedroia was examined Saturday by Dr. Tom Gill, the Red Sox medical director.
Pedroia said this is the first time he has dealt with a rib cage injury. He said he first felt pain while taking batting practice Friday, then felt it again while swinging in preparation to play tonight.
"I started feeling a shooting pain, and Reggie Smith, our hitting coach, told me to shut it down," Pedroia said.
The Red Sox open the season April 6 against Tampa Bay, so Pedroia has more than three weeks to get ready for the season.
"I've just got to do what the doctors say," Pedroia said. "I don't always like to do that. I'd like to play tonight, but I don't think the Red Sox would appreciate that."
Pedroia's injury, especially if it proves more serious than he and the Red sox think it is, will surely lead to more criticism of the WBC. While many players suffer oblique strains during spring training, Pedroia admitted his injury could have been caused by gearing up quicker than normal to play in games that count.
"Maybe I pushed it too hard, too fast, to get it going," he said.
Mark DeRosa replaced Pedroia in the Team USA lineup tonight.