When I read about Dustin Pedroia working out with Jose Iglesias, I thought about what a team leader he has become. He doesn’t make a lot of public pronouncements, but he did step up during the debacle with Bobby Valentine in September and stood for sanity and communication at a time when the Red Sox were noticeably lacking in those departments.
According to his teammates Pedroia leads by example, because he works harder with more expectation than anyone else on the team. He takes command on an infield fly or steps back to let the shortstop cover the base. He is willing to play a role by stealing a base or hitting to right to advance a runner. And most of all, he leads with intensity, making every at-bat and road game important in the long season of Major League Baseball.
If there is going to be a team captain this year, it should be Pedroia. On a roster with rapidly shifting personnel, Pedroia is an axis of stability. He came up through the farm system and stepped into a starting role with some struggle at first. But he never lost confidence or focus. He played through hitting slumps and prolonged rehabilitation. He played through team dissension and front office confusion. He has shown uncanny focus on his job. Players respect that level of commitment. On the Red Sox only David Ortiz has a comparable focus on his work.
The Red Sox have benefited from a captain at certain junctures in their history–Yastrzemski and Varitek come to mind. With half the roster shipped off over the last few months, they might benefit from an established leader.
I don’t pretend to have insider knowledge of these dynamics, but I do admire Pedroia and think he stands for values that make the Red Sox better. We could all learn from the smallest man with the biggest heart on the team. And the Red Sox might recover some dignity with such a leader.