Why Dustin Pedroia is ruling out another surgery

Rob Bradford
May 28, 2019 - 9:03 am

The question was a legitimate one. The answer? A bit vague.

In announcing he was going to be taking a step back in his attempt to return from a severe left knee injury Dustin Pedroia also addressed the idea that another surgery might help the process. That, he explained, wasn't an option.

"The surgery that's been recommended to me after last season is something that not a lot of people want to go through," Pedroia noted. "It would affect the quality of my life and things like that. So no, I'm not thinking about having the surgery."

Pedroia has already gone on record at the outset of spring training that he regretted undergoing his initial cartilage restoration surgery back in October 2017. The prognosis at that time was that it would take the second baseman seven months before he could return to game action. That, of course, didn't go as planned with Pedroia spending just three games back in the majors during the 2018 campaign before resorting to another wave of rehabilitation.

The current problem for Pedroia is that he has seemingly exhausted every avenue in his attempt to return. And one of those options presented by some medical personnel, as he noted, was never really an option at all.

It's a procedure called an Osteotomy.

In a nutshell, the operation would necessitate actually breaking (or cutting) his tibia. There are no documented examples of a professional athlete undergoing the operation and going on to continue their playing career.

"The concept is to try and take the stress of that spot that is sore," explained Dr. Dan Quinn of Newton-Wellesley Orthopedic Associates, who has not been privy to Pedroia's medical records. "In my mind's eye, he has got a disc of cartilage and bone that got transplanted into basically the pothole that was created when (Manny) Machado crashed into him. That's the crux of the problem. The stress on that spot is not being handled as well it would otherwise be if there was cartilage."

Dr. Quinn further explained, "There are definitely some patients who are still pretty active on a knee like after an operation like that, but of whether a professional athlete can after an Osteotomy is a different question. ... The question in terms of his comeback is probably not so much can he recover from the surgery because the surgery is just like breaking his leg. You would have a cast and be back six to nine months later. The bigger problem for him is the cartilage problem, which is what he's been fighting."

Pedroia most recently played four innings for Double-A Portland Friday night and was in the Sea Dogs' lineup for a brief period Saturday morning before being taken out. The 35-year-old was reevaluated in Boston over the weekend, leading to the decision to reassess his situation.

"The last game I played the pain was kind of to a point where I had to tell the trainer, I'm like, "Listen man, I've gotta come out. It's a tough day.' I knew I'd have tough days throughout this process," he explained. "The next day I woke up and it wasn't any better. So it's to a point now where my knee is not allowing me to play every day. It's taken a while to realize that. I've tried so many things, from braces to orthotics to rehab methods to seeing different doctors to every type of treatment possible. So I'm at a point right now where I need some time. That's what my status is."