My first little league jersey had No. 12 on the back. I had asked for No. 15, but the coach’s son picked first and he got it instead. At 10-years-old there was just one player I wanted to represent between my shoulder blades: Dustin Pedroia.
To me he was more than the MVP or the World Series rings. He represented who I wanted to be as a baseball player. He fought until he won, he worked longer and harder than everyone around him and he fired back at the people who thought he couldn’t be a Hall of Fame type player — both with witty quips and MVP-caliber seasons.
As a fan, you knew what you were getting when you saw his bright red glove touch the field. You were going to get a player that dove in every direction, stretched his 5-foot-7 frame to the absolute highest he could on a low line drive into the outfield. He was going to run out every ground ball like it was the last time he would ever do it and he was going to run like hell when he touched the base paths.
Dustin Pedroia defined the word heart. He was a warrior on the baseball field, and I am going to miss getting to see him play.
Breaking news: #RedSox 2B Dustin Pedroia has suffered what sources say was a significant setback with his left knee.
His availability for at least spring training is questionable. Pedroia is discussing his options with his family, agents, and the Sox.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) January 21, 2020
Tuesday morning, after there was a sense Pedroia would be back for the 2020 season all off-season, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reported that he suffered a “significant setback” in his left knee. Abraham went on to say his availability for Spring Training is questionable.
Pedroia was more than the “Laser Show.” He was a valuable leader, and he likely would have been the Boston Red Sox captain if not for David Ortiz. He taught Eduardo Rodriguez a new slider a couple of years ago, and last year Rodriguez won 19 games. Of course, the win stat doesn’t mean anything anymore, but he led the majors in starts last year while hitting 200-plus strikeouts for the first time in his career. Rodriguez also had a respectable 3.81 ERA over 203.1 innings, both career bests, and finished sixth in the American League Cy Young voting.
Pedroia was the one to figure out what was wrong with David Price’s leg-kick a few years ago as well. His value stretches well beyond the box score.
While it certainly does, his box score stats weren’t so bad either. He was the third player in MLB history to win a Rookie of the Year and then an MVP the next season. He was a career .299/.365/.439 hitter over 14 seasons in the big leagues. He was a four-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and he has two World Series rings to his name. He had a full career, and we should appreciate what he brought to the game of baseball.
Fans are angry about the dollar amount his name carries on the payroll, $13.75 million in each of the next two seasons, but he more than earned his paycheck. When he signed his eight-year, $110 million extension in 2013 right before Robinson Cano — a comparable player to Pedroia — signed for 10 years and $240 million the following off-season.
Dustin Pedroia gave his body to the game of baseball, and he should be treated, in his potential retirement, as the player he was: a star worthy of unending praise from the city he performed for on a daily basis.
He was robbed of his chance to finish a Hall of Fame career by a reckless slide by Manny Machado back in 2017. Now he is faced with a decision: keep fighting to get back on the field — which he has done for the past two seasons with no success — or retire. Since it’s for medical-related reasons, Pedroia will likely get paid his salary even if forced to retire, so it’s up to him at this point.
Dustin Pedroia was one of the main reasons I ever started watching baseball and sports in general. I hope he gets the retirement he deserves, when he wants it. At the same time, I’m going to miss watching the Laser Show suit up every day. I am going to miss the little hop he does before each pitch out at second base. Most of all, I’m going to miss the player that inspired me to do what I love, no matter the challenges.
Thank you, Dustin. Good luck.