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Dustin Pedroia, the undersized and over-achieving second baseman who spurred the Boston Red Sox to a pair of World Series victories with his grit and another, after a knee injury effective ended his career, with his mouth, has retired.
Pedroia, 37, was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and the MVP in his second season but played in a total of nine games in the last three years because of the 2017 injury from a spikes-high slide by then-Orioles shortstop Manny Machado.
He was the longest-tenured player on the Red Sox roster and the only holdover from the 2007 championship team.
“He was the ultimate team player,” said Terry Francona, the current Cleveland manager and Pedroia’s manager and cribbage opponent for six seasons. “He always seemed to save his very best plays for the most important time of the game. He seemed to will himself at times to lead us to victory. It is impossible to spend any amount of time with him and not become close to him. He just has that type of personality.”
A four-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner, Pedroia batted .299 with 140 homers and 725 RBIs in a 17-year career, all with the Red Sox. He is the only player ever to earn Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove and MVP awards along with a World Series championship in his first two full seasons; only nine other players have accomplished those feats in their entire career.
“I asked myself one day, ‘Who would be a player that you would buy a ticket to see, because it was worth it to watch him play for nine innings?’ And my answer was Dustin Pedroia," longtime Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said. “He played with a little chip on his shoulder.”
“I got to the point where I worried so much about him, the way he hustled, the way he played hard, his discipline,” Ortiz said. “The one thing I learned for sure was that this was not about size. This was about heart. He was the whole package. I’m happy, thankful, grateful and proud that I was able to have a teammate like him because he was a guy who motivated me to do well.”
Pedroia made 11 consecutive opening day starts for the Red Sox, second in franchise history only to Carl Yastrzemski. But his career effectively ended early in the 2017 season when Baltimore’s Manny Machado slid into second base, spikes-up, and connected with Pedroia's left leg.
Pedroia played in 105 games that year but had surgery afterward; he admitted to rushing back in 2018, when he lasted only three games before going back on the injured list. The Red Sox won a franchise-record 108 games that season.
“He’s the heart and soul of this team,” infielder Brock Holt said before the start of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, won by the Red Sox in five games. “To have him here — it’s always better with him here than when he’s gone.”
In 2019, Pedroia played just six games. He continued to speak of a comeback before having what the Red Sox said was a “significant setback” in the offseason.
Pedroia, who did not play at all in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, has one season remaining on a $110 million, eight-year contract. He is owed $25 million to be paid through July 15, 2027, including deferred payments.
“It sucks,” Machado said after the 2019 setback. “Obviously, he could down as one of the greatest Red Sox to play this game."
This article was originally published on February 01, 2021.
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