It’s no secret that Dustin Pedroia has been one of my all-time favorites since he first joined the PawSox The 2007 American League rookie of the year and the Leagues’ MVP in 2008, Pedroias’ heart is as big as all outdoors. We’ve had a very nice relationship for a while and I was proud to be featured in his biography, “Born to Play.” He is “The mouth that roared”, and always will be. When I walked into the clubhouse the other day and he saw me for the first time this Spring, he started right in on me. “Hey Hyder, you look like a terrorist.” Mildly funny, but material he has used many times before. When I asked him “what was up?” he looked me over and answered “Apparently, your cholesterol.” I’ll give him credit for that.
Hard to believe that Dustin is ready for his sixth season as a member of the Red Sox. “It goes by quick, that’s why you have to enjoy it and have fun. It’s a joy, man.” When asked if he was enjoying himself, he had a quick response. “Yeah, it’s been a good time. It’s gone by fast. I wish it would slow down a little bit. It’s been fun.” Pedroia says that he and his teammates have a simple way to erase the memory of last years’ epic collapse. “Just get better. That’s the past. Just try to block it out. That’s not easy. I think we’re all excited for this year to just get out there and play the game right.”
Pedroia claims that there’s no difference playing for Terry Francona or Bobby Valentine. “There’s no difference really. A little different routine that has taken some time to get used to. We’re enjoying it. We’ve just got to go out there and play hard.” Dustin was loyal to Francona, at one point saying that he would’ve loved to play his entire career for him. He says they stay in touch. “I talked to him during the offseason, seeing how he’s doing and stuff like that. I’ll akways be close to him. He helped me out so much in my career. It was great to play for him.”
Dustin seemed genuinely surprised and somewhat perturbed when I mentioned that the Red Sox are under dogs heading into 2012. “Who said that?” He wanted to know, as if he were ready to fight them. “People. People who don’t know what they are talking about. We feel like we’ve got a good team. A chance to go out there and compete for a championship. We’ll see what happens.”
Pedroia also seemed happy with the new additions to his ballclub. “We brought in some good guys. Nick Punto, Cody Ross, (Ryan) Sweeney, (Andrew) Bailey, (Mark) Melancon. Those guys are great guys. Great clubhouse guys. They do their job professionally ad they’re going to help us out a ton.”
With Jason Varitek retired the Red Sox do not have a “captain” per se. Pedroia claims that he has never considered being Teks’ successor. “I haven’t really thought about it. My job is to come out here and play the game right and help us win games. It’s great that people say I’m one of the leaders of the team and to put me in the conmversation. That’s an honor in itself.” He may not wear the “C” on his chest, but underneath that Sox uniform, there may be a Superman “S”.