With the Red Sox still in the early stages of a stretch of 20 games in as many days, manager John Farrell is trying to give each player at least one day off.

To that, Dustin Pedroia may say no thanks.

“Pedey will fight that tooth and nail,” Farrell said. “He fully expects to play every game.”

As it is, Pedroia is the only Red Sox player to start all 44 games after slumping center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury took his turn on the bench yesterday in a rain-interrupted 5-1 victory that capped a three-game sweep of the Twins.

And it isn’t like Pedroia needs the rest. In fact, he may be playing as well as ever.

Pedroia made game-saving defensive gems to beat the Twins in each of the series’ first two games, then belted a ninth-inning drive yesterday that deflected off left fielder Josh Willingham’s wrist and over the fence for a two-run homer.

“I thought it was going to be a double, but I’ll take it,” said Pedroia, batting .343 with a team-leading .432 on-base percentage that ranks second in the American League. “He hit it over, huh? Wow. Lucky. They’re usually robbing them. We’ll take the break.”

As long as it means Pedroia doesn’t have to take a break. Excluding 2010, when he missed the final three months because of a broken bone in his foot, Pedroia has averaged 150 games in his other five major league seasons.

Since the 162-game schedule was introduced in 1961, only five Red Sox have gone a full season without missing a game — George Scott (1966), Carl Yastrzemski (1969), Jim Rice (1978), Dwight Evans (1982, 1984) and Bill Buckner (1985).

Could Pedroia be next?

“As well as he’s playing, as good as he feels, as headstrong as he can be with not wanting to come out, all that’s taken into account,” Farrell said. “Pedey is the heartbeat of this team, and you don’t want to cut the heart out.”

Meanwhile, Farrell believes Ellsbury may benefit from the day off. He’s batting .189 with a .268 on-base percentage in May, lowering his overall average to .246 with a .309 OBP.

“He’s working on a number of things, as we’ve all seen and talked about,” Farrell said. “The month of May has been less than what he’s shown he’s capable of. But we have to continue to work with him and get him back on track.”

In Ellsbury’s absence, Shane Victorino returned to the lineup and started in center field. Victorino missed the previous two games because of tightness in his lower back.