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Yoshida back in batting practice, but Casas not ready to swing

Yoshida back in batting practice, but Casas not ready to swing

Masataka Yoshida of the Boston Red Sox stands on deck against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Masataka Yoshida took batting practice with his teammates Saturday afternoon, a promising step forward for the Red Sox designated hitter, who has not played since April 28 due to a thumb injury.

“I’m glad I was able to hit without pain, that’s something I accomplished today,” he said after the dugout (via translator Yutaro Yamaguchi).

While Yoshida no longer feels pain, Alex Cora expects batting practice to be “every day” in the future.

Yoshida cautioned, however, that he only started hitting three days ago and that he “can’t really say exactly” how long he’s been pain-free. He also uses new props as he gets closer to the action of the game.

“I was using (a thumb guard) and I also put a tampon in it,” he said.

One of the team’s newest Hall of Famers made some recommendations in this regard.

“Pedroia was very helpful, because he experienced something similar,” Cora revealed.

The legendary Red Sox second baseman injured his thumb on Opening Day 2013 and played through pain until mid-November, once Boston won its third World Series of the century. He and Yoshida communicated through the medical trainers, Yamaguchi relayed.

Yoshida is already planning to begin a rehabilitation mission, although it won’t happen immediately.

“I think the next step will be to try to increase the intensity, to try to strike in more decisive situations,” he said.

Yoshida is one of several key bats missing from Boston’s lineup, contributing to their 29-29 record on Saturday. Triston Casas (ribs) and Tyler O’Neill (right knee inflammation) are also progressing in their respective returns.

O’Neill was placed on the 10-day injured list earlier this week, but a cortisone shot is already making a difference.

“He feels like the shot did the job, so it’s going to be something short,” Cora said. “He should be with us as soon as the 10 days (are up).”

Casas, however, is not moving yet. He’s officially six weeks out from his injury, but he still feels some tension when he tries to swing with any type of weighted object in his arms.

“At the end of the day, it’s about how he feels, and that’s what the doctor told him, basically: You’re going to let us know when you can swing,” his manager said.

As of June, the Red Sox are a .500 team and sit in third place in the American League East. That’s no small feat, considering how many players they’ve lost for part or all of the season.

“We did a really good job surviving injuries. We know we’re going to be healthy. When? We don’t know yet,” Cora said with a smile. “But putting those bats back in our lineup, that’s going to help us.” The guys are going to go to their place and they are going to be more dangerous. We’re going to have a deeper lineup, it’s Connor Wong coming in seventh, not third or fifth, and that’s going to help.