PAWTUCKET — For Scott Podsednik, the left groin strain he suffered 11 days ago couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Podsednik, who had returned to the big leagues after a year’s absence, was batting .387 in 19 games with the Boston Red Sox and giving them a much- needed boost in the outfield after they lost the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Darnell McDonald, Cody Ross, and Ryan Sweeney to injuries.
But the injury bug ended up biting Podsednik himself during the Red Sox’s June 17 game against the Chicago Cubs when he injured his leg running out a grounder and landed on the 15-day disabled list.
Since then, Podsednik had been working out in Boston, but with the ballclub heading to the West Coast for series in Seattle and Oakland, he drove down Route 95 to McCoy Stadium early Thursday afternoon to get in some work with the Pawtucket Red Sox.
And he’ll be back in Pawtucket tonight to begin a rehab stint in the finale of the PawSox’s series with the Charlotte Knights, where he is expected to serve as the designated hitter.
He will also join the team in Lehigh Valley this weekend for their brief series against the IronPigs, as well as their series that starts next Monday at home against Rochester.
“I feel good,” Podsednik reported in the PawSox’s dugout after his workout. “I ran the bases the last couple of days and pressed on the gas a little bit, and the leg feels good.
“I’m here to get some games and get some at-bats, run around a little bit, and get this sucker back to running, so hopefully, without any setbacks, I can get back to Boston and join the club come that Yankees series (on July 6).”
Podsednik agreed that the timing of his leg injury was bad, considering how well he was playing since he was promoted from Pawtucket on May 22 after just nine games with the PawSox.
In addition to his high average (24 hits in 62 at-bats), he also stole six bases and filled in nicely in the leadoff spot of the lineup when Daniel Nava was briefly sidelined with a sore left hand.
Plus, the Red Sox were in the midst of turning things around after their slow start to the season. Since May 11 to the time of Podsednik’s injury, they had played .600 ball, winning 21 of their 35 games.
“I was having some fun, we were starting to click there, and the team was playing well,” added Podsednik, “so it was frustrating to have to sit on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, but hopefully I can get this thing back and pick up where I left off.”
The 36-year-old Podsednik came into this season looking to pick up where he left off from a solid big-league career that not only spanned from being a September callup by the Seattle Mariners in 2001 to a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010, but also included a World Series title and an A.L. All-Star appearance with the Chicago White Sox in 2005 and an N.L. stolen base crown (70) with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2003.
A fractured left foot limited Podsednik to just 34 minor-league games a year ago in the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies organizations, and despite an outstanding spring training with the Phillies that saw hit bat .309 in 31 games, he ended up heading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in April.
“I was deflated after the spring I had,” said Podsednik. “I think it came down to outs. Juan Pierre had his on March 30th and I had my June 1st out, so the club could keep us both. I think that it was the right move from the Phillies’ standpoint, but it was kind of deflating for me personally.
“But it helped me realize that I could still play – that I still had some gas in the tank – so I tried to step away from it and take the positives out of it.”
Still, the sting of not returning to the big leagues hurt Podsednik, who batted just .197 in 23 games with the IronPigs, but on May 12, he was purchased by the Boston Red Sox and sent to Pawtucket, where he hit .323 with six RBIs.
And with the injuries to Boston’s outfield mounting and Ross and Sweeney landing on the disabled list on the same day, Podsednik was called up to the Red Sox and contributed right from the start.
“There’s been a swinging door up there with guys entering and leaving,” he said. “It’s been crazy, but I think from all the injuries and all the new faces, (the Red Sox) have remained relatively steady and are still in a good spot. When everybody gets back, hopefully they can put everything together.”
But when everybody does get back together and Crawford and Ellsbury are back in their starting roles in left and center field, where does that leave the rest of the outfielders, including Podsednik?
Only time will tell.
“There are going to be some decisions that have to be made, no doubt about that,” added Podsednik. “As a player, all you can do is go out and play your game and not worry about those things. It’s easier said than done obviously, but hopefully I’ll remain on someone’s roster, whether that would be the Red Sox or someone else.”