Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia attempted a comeback from knee surgery in 2019, playing several games with the Portland Sea Dogs. But he had to cut it short and has not played since. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

In his first full professional baseball season, in 2005, Dustin Pedroia wore a Portland Sea Dogs uniform.

And the last time Pedroia played baseball, he was again in Sea Dogs colors at Hadlock Field.

It was 18 months ago when Portland fans watched, and hoped.

Pedroia played second base for the Sea Dogs, on another rehab assignment, in another attempt to play on his faulty left knee. In the Hadlock clubhouse, Pedroia spoke with a mix of honesty, confidence and uncertainty. Could he keep playing?

“I don’t know,” Pedroia said. “I hope my knee holds up because I’m still good. You know what I mean?”

What Pedroia meant was he still had the skills, still had that enormous heart that loved the game. But …

“It’s making sure my knee can withstand being a major league player. That’s what we’re hoping. We need a little luck. It’s going to happen.”

“Hopefully, everything goes smooth.”

It didn’t. Pedroia’s rehab assignment was halted after he played parts of five games. He tried again a week later, initially playing five games for Pawtucket and then back to Portland.

But his appearance in Portland, on May 24, was cut short after four innings. Pedroia declined an interview request after leaving the game. Those four innings at Hadlock Field are likely the last of Pedroia’s celebrated career.

Pedroia has one year and $12 million remaining on his eight-year, $110-million contract. But does anyone believe Pedroia is coming back? His left knee has undergone several surgeries, with little success. He played only three major league games in 2018, and six in 2019 (all in April). He was not around this year, neither in spring training nor the regular season.

At the end of the 2020 season, Red Sox General Manager Brian O’Halloran said, “we’ll be talking to (Pedroia) soon … and take it from there. We don’t have any particular plans, but we’ll be engaging with Dustin soon.”

It makes sense to figure out a way to negotiate a retirement plan with Pedroia. As per MLB rules, Pedroia had to come off the 60-day injured list and be put back on the 40-man roster (along with Chris Sale and other injured players) after the World Series.

But it makes no sense to believe Pedroia will play again, unless there is a secretive medical miracle taking place.

Although Pedroia’s salary would still count toward the luxury tax threshold even if he retires, his retirement would benefit the Red Sox in terms of the 40-man roster. Boston has 36 players on the roster, but will need to make more room for prospects who could be taken by other teams in the Rule 5 draft, plus any free agents the Red Sox want to sign.

Is Pedroia done as a player? No one wants that – and here’s hoping there is a medical miracle. But if the reality is Pedroia’s cursed knee is no better, then its time to talk retirement.

ADDITIONS TO THE 40-MAN roster must be made by Nov. 20 to protect a prospect from the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 10. Minor leaguers with specified years of service time – depending on their age when they signed – can be drafted by other teams if they are not on the 40-man roster.

Boston has at least two homegrown prospects they will want to protect – pitchers Bryan Mata and Jay Groome – plus four prospects they obtained in trades: outfielder Jeisson Rosario and infielder Hudson Potts (from San Diego, in the Mitch Moreland deal); catcher Connor Wong (from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade) and right-hander Connor Seabold (from the Phillies in the Brandon Workman trade).

Another possibility is right-handed reliever Eduardo Bazardo, who pitched in Portland in 2019 and showed an electric fastball.

If Boston wants to add all these players, others will have to be removed from the 40-man roster. Pitcher Yoan Aybar and outfielder Marcus Wilson are likely candidates to be dropped.

THE MINOR LEAGUE shake-up continues. With short-season leagues like the New York-Penn League appearing on their way out (or converted to summer collegiate leagues), major league organizations are shuffling their affiliates.

The Yankees surprised everyone by moving their Double-A team from Trenton to Somerset, New Jersey. Somerset, located 28 miles north of Trenton, has had an independent league team. The Yankees also cut ties with their short-season team in Staten Island, and announced they’re moving their Class A team from Charleston, South Carolina, to the Hudson Valley region in New York, which had been host to a short-season team.

The Mets also made a surprise move. It had been rumored that their Double-A affiliate in Binghamton would move to Brooklyn, which has had a popular short-season team. Instead, Binghamton will remain a Double-A affiliate, and the Mets are moving their Class A team in Columbia, South Carolina, to Brooklyn.

THE RED SOX, like everyone else, will have to cut a minor league team. Initially, short-season Lowell appeared on the block, but Boston could move its Class A team from Greenville, South Carolina, to Lowell, where it could compete in a league with the teams in Brooklyn and Hudson Valley.

Boston’s advanced Class A team in Salem, Virginia, appears secure, in part because the Red Sox own that team.

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