Pedroia leaves Red Sox to attend funeral

Second baseman expected to rejoin club late Monday

Pedroia leaves Red Sox to attend funeral

BOSTON -- The Red Sox will be without red-hot leadoff man Dustin Pedroia for Sunday's rubber match against the Royals, and possibly Monday's opener of a three-game series against the Rays.

The second baseman flew out of Boston on Sunday morning to attend funeral services for a family member.

"Our condolences go out to both Dustin and Kelli and their families," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "And we'd expect him back here later [Monday] night after the beginning of the game. So we've not put him on the bereavement list. That requires a minimum of three games missed so we'll play a man short."

Perhaps Pedroia can come off the bench on Monday, depending on what time he gets to the ballpark.

"Based on his texts he's envisioned a walk-off hit in the ninth," said Farrell. "Much in Pedey fashion, that was his parting text this morning before he left."

Brock Holt filled in for Pedroia in the leadoff spot and at second base.

Pedroia's temporary departure comes just one day after an exquisite three-game stretch in which he had hits in 11 straight at-bats, one shy of the Major League record. Pedroia had reached base in 12 straight plate appearances before grounding into a double play in the eighth inning of Saturday's 8-3 win over the Royals.

This is shaping up to be Pedroia's best all-around season since 2011. It has been a statement season to some who might have thought Pedroia was on the decline, rather than just a player going through some health problems.

"In 2013, he had to play every game except Opening Day with a torn ligament in his thumb," said Farrell. "But I think above all it's his commitment and drive as a player that rubs off on everyone else. There's nothing in Dustin's mind that's insurmountable. He relishes challenges or something that might be stated that he can't do. I think he uses that in such a positive way to prove others wrong whether that's performing at the level he into his 30s now and I don't see that slowing down the way he's wired."

Pedroia had four hits in each of the first two games of the series. In his last three home games, he has 13 hits and became the first player since 1913 to have three straight games at Fenway Park with four-plus hits.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.