Ed Note: Watched Pedroia drive in three runs with two solid hits today, March 25. I could be wrong about 2016. Maybe this will be the year he starts hot. Couldn’t happen to a better guy. If I am about to eat the words dished out below, hallelujah!
Dustin Pedroia, for all his preparation and hard work, never seems ready for baseball in the spring. I remember his first year, beating everything into the turf and even looking uncomfortable in the field, and he seems to come out every season in the same funk.
In yesterday’s exhibition against the Mets he hacked his way through another oh-fer and airmailed a throw to the plate, when he had no chance to get the runner anyway. He gets a lot of AB’s in the spring, more than most starters, but he continues to flail and flub like someone trying to break in to a new position.
Pedroia has always been my Red Sox hero. He is the Tom Brady of the Red Sox for his loyalty, for making fellow players better, for his obvious hustle. He never jumps into controversy for fear of hurting the team. He keeps his head down and runs out every grass-cutter in the infield. How can you not like that kind of player?
Well, I don’t like him much in the spring, because he looks like he’s learning the game all over again. When he is hitting, he takes the outside pitch to right field. When he’s slumping he takes vicious swings and pounds the ball into the turf– a portrait in frustration. I’m thinking, “Go the other way, Dustin. You know how good you are when you do that.” Still he swings vainly from his heels.
And it’s probably a lot more complicated than that. But why the spring malaise? Why do we look at the bench for Brock Holt, when Pedroia is the soul of the Sox? Yeah, we know something magical will happen in May and suddenly pitchers can not get him out. But what about the first month, Dustin? What’s going on then?
Yet I know no one is harder on himself than Dustin Pedroia. His frustration will be double mine. He mutters to himself and pounds his bat and glove into the wall, living the curse of spring. While I mutter, “Take it to right, Dustin.”