FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia feels ready for opening day. Considering what it took to get to that point, the Boston Red Sox are erring on the side of caution.

Pedroia will miss Boston’s opener for the second straight season, staying in extended spring training to rehab his left knee, on which he had surgeries each of the past two offseasons. Pedroia, a key figure for the Red Sox during most of his 13-year career, believes he’s ready to go but understands why the reigning World Series champions are hesitant.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I don’t think the team was expecting me to come in and look the way I look, so they just want to make sure they do it right. That’s basically it. They’ve had to hold me back. I mean, I’m ready for Opening Day. It’s just that they’re scared. No one’s ever come back from something like this.”

The 2008 AL MVP started at second base against the split-squad Rays on Thursday night, going 2 for 3 with an RBI in the 8-0 win, and will play in some of the remaining exhibition games in Florida and when Boston travels to Arizona to play the Cubs on Monday and Tuesday.

The team just isn’t confident he could be ready for the season opener March 28 against the Mariners in Seattle.

“We’re running out of time,” Manager Alex Cora said. “There’s been no setbacks, nothing out of the ordinary. It’s just that we feel we need more time to do the back-to-backs, more innings. There’s no target date (for his activation).”

Cora wants to keep Pedroia progressing steadily. The 35-year-old Pedroia has three years remaining on a $110 million, eight-year contract, and Boston wants to get as many games out of him in that time as possible.

RAYS: AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell agreed to a $50 million, five-year contract that covers three seasons of arbitration eligibility plus one year after he could have become a free agent.

The 26-year-old went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA last year, setting franchise records for wins and ERA.

YANKEES: Left-hander CC Sabathia returned to the mound for the first time since undergoing a heart procedure in December. Sabathia allowed one run and two hits over two innings on Thursday in a minor league exhibition game, striking out three for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Toledo, Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate.

Guest instructor Lee Mazzilli was expected to spend a second night in the hospital after being struck in the head by a ball during batting practice Wednesday.

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