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02/26/11 5:00 PM EST

Pedroia, Youk have Sox savoring healthy start

Boston stars show no ill effects from injuries in spring opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Dustin Pedroia could do all the running he wanted during the winter, but there was no test for his surgically repaired left foot quite like the one he encountered on Saturday, in his first baseball game since Aug. 18.

After drawing a walk in his first at-bat in the Red Sox's 6-0 exhibition win over Boston College, Pedroia drilled one up the middle in the bottom of the second inning. It seemed to have base hit written all over it, but second baseman Anthony Melchionda made a diving stop.

Pedroia, who sprinted out of the box, was thrown out by a step. It mattered not that he was out. What gratified Pedroia is that his foot responded just fine to the quick burst of impact.

"I haven't done that in a while, but I felt good," Pedroia said. "I didn't see him catch it, because the pitcher was in my way, but once I saw that, I was, like, 'I better run hard.' It felt fine. I felt pretty good. I'm not playing tomorrow, so I'll see how I feel tomorrow and map out the next day."

Coming off an injury-marred 2010 season, the Red Sox spent the first day of Spring Training action savoring a return to health.

Not only was Pedroia up and running again, but there was Kevin Youkilis making a diving stop at third base on the second batter of the game. And there was Youkilis again in the bottom of the first, clubbing a three-run shot to right-center.

"It's just nice to see both of them on the field, running around, looking healthy," said manager Terry Francona.

The health of star players became uncommonly poor for the Red Sox down the stretch in 2010. Youkilis underwent surgery to repair a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb, halting his season on Aug. 2.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, who started Saturday night's nightcap against Northeastern University, were absent for almost the entire second half last year. In fact, Ellsbury (rib fractures) played just 18 games all season.

Seemingly, none of it lingered into the spring. The Red Sox have their team back together, bolstered by star newcomers Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.

"It's great," said Pedroia. "Everyone's excited, too. It makes you hungry. We haven't been out there in a while together, too. It's going to be fun. We're all pumped up about it."

Pedroia left after two innings and two plate appearances. He didn't see any action on defense.

Youkilis had the homer and a walk before exiting.

"I'm feeling good. Probably the worst part about it was that I peaked too early," quipped Youkilis. "But it was good to get back out there. The balls off the bat, that's one of those things, the adrenaline rush when you're playing live and when you're hitting, you have to harness all that adrenaline and try to work on things. It was good to go out there and get the spikes on and play on a field where there are no L-screens and pitchers are pitching and position players are out there fielding the ball."

Much like Pedroia couldn't practice the burst out of the box when the opponent makes a diving stop, Youkilis couldn't quite emulate the quick-reaction dive play he executed perfectly on Saturday. But it was a result of all the work he's been doing on the fields during drills.

"That was nice. He's worked hard," Francona said. "He's spent a lot of time over there with [coach Tim Bogar], and I think he'll be just fine."

For Pedroia and Youkilis, the day was about simple pleasures.

"It was just fun to get out there and play a game and be with your teammates and high-five each other again and go through the baseball things," Youkilis said. "It was a lot of fun."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.