I think we all enjoyed the whirlwind of Dustin Pedroia. Back at McCoy this weekend for the first time since winning Rookie of the Year honors and a World Series Title in 2007. Back at McCoy for the first time since he was named the American League MVP in 2008. Back to play in two games for the PawSox as he nurses his broken foot back to health and a return to the Boston lineup, scheduled for Tuesday. Pedroia is listed at 5’9 and 180 pounds. I doubt that either of those numbers is correct. As guys make their way through Pawtucket, whether it’s up to the Bigs or out the door, you don’t always know if they’ll be able to make the final step. At first I wasn’t 100% positive about Pedey as he worked his way up the chain. Two things were apparent about Dustin from the day we met. I knew he had heart and I knew I liked him. As we talked this past weekend, both on and off the record, those two things still hold true.
Baseball-wise, he has me completely believing in the fortunes of the Red Sox. He made such a convincing argument, that the kid has the cynic believing that 2010 will still be the year. You can easily see why the Red Sox are Pedroias’ team. He’s got it. He’s got a room of grizzled veterans, including manager Terry Francona eating out of the palm of his hand. People need leadership. They want to be taken to the promised land. Baseball or otherwise, they have a deep need to be lead. Pedroia does it with the ease of a man twice his age. He holds court. People, teammates or not, rich or poor, younger or older hang on his every word. Not just because of his predictions of “lasers” being hit all over the place. That’s fun stuff. People now believe in Dustin Pedroia. They believe in him, because he walks the walk. Lots of guys talk the talk. He was out on the field, shortly after breaking his foot, kneeling down, fielding grounders. He tried to take batting practice seated in a folding chair. That wasn’t what is known as “eye- wash” in baseball parlance. Something just put on for show. It was Dustin Pedroia yearning and craving for another opportunity to help Boston win.
Forget about baseball for a minute. The throng of media has dissipated. The interviews have all been recorded for the moment. Two old friends catching up. One lives a very public life. Maybe the most popular man in Boston, or Massachusetts, or New England or anywhere in Red Sox Nation, for that matter. Financially secure, a beautiful wife and a 1 year old son back at home. The darling of an entire region. After they run through all their old jokes, he asks his old friend, sincerely if there’s anything he needs. It goes way beyond autographed baseballs or anything like that. They talk about both their ups and downs, the way a couple of guys who don’t see each other as much any more because of circumstances, would. You can’t do it justice, trying to explain it. It was a feel-good moment. You know it when you have one.
I had interviewed Dustin and I had quotes ready to roll out. Just not today. Today is my day to tell you what a wonderful man Dustin Pedroia is. Not because he can hit. Not because he can field. Not because he can run or throw. Because he cares. He cares about his teammates. He cares about winning. He cares deeply for his family and he cares about his friends.