Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia made his long-awaited return to the field on Tuesday. His play in the home opener showed signs of progress and hope.
On Tuesday the Red Sox were finally able to see their long-tenured second baseman take the field once again. After what felt like ages since we’ve last seen Dustin Pedroia on a baseball diamond he returned to the starting lineup for the Fenway Park Opening Day ceremonies. It wasn’t a perfect day for Pedey but it was something both he and the Fenway Faithful needed.
Prior to the game, the Red Sox had their World Series celebration where the banner was raised high above Fenway Park and the team received their championship rings. Among those celebrated with champions past and present was Pedroia. Chris Cotillo of Masslive.com captured his thoughts as Dustin spoke with the media after the ceremony and game and seemed positive on the day as a whole.
Even though he only played in 3 games during the 2018 season he never missed a single game from the dugout to support his team. He rightfully gets to add another piece of jewelry to his collection for 2018.
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When the pomp and circumstance concluded from the ceremony it was finally time for the teams to take the field and get to the matter at hand. Pedroia was slotted into the 7 slot in the lineup by Alex Cora where he was sandwiched between Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr. The game wasn’t meant for Dustin to start any sort of MVP campaign but more so shake off the rust and see what was in the tank. And he did just that.
Pedroia only went 1-4 on the day with his lone hit coming in his final at-bat in the ninth inning but the plate appearances weren’t without merit. In the second he hit into a double play but it would be one that paid off as it allowed Xander Bogaerts to score. His other at-bats wielded a groundout and line out. Both outs had some solid sound coming off the bat and didn’t look awful. Though men were left on base in his first at-bats it’s tough to put too much blame on a guy who hasn’t played in 11-months.
Finally his single started what could’ve been a bottom of the ninth rally that was ultimately snuffed out. Dustin told the media that he was definitely feeling some nerves and had himself ramped up for his return to the Red Sox and he needed a few at-bats to get himself calmed down and in the zone.
"“After my second at-bat, I kind of calmed down and was able to try to have good at-bats and see the ball,” Pedroia said. “I was amped up my first couple and hit a line drive to right. That kind of settled me down a little bit. The ninth inning, you’re obviously facing their closer (Ken Giles) so you’re trying to get on base. I was fortunate enough to get a ball and find the hole.”"
In the field, Dustin seemed comfortable and sure of his movements and where his body was during his defensive play. At one point he did have a scare that left me and I think the entirety of Red Sox Nation holding their breath waiting to see if Pedroia was OK. He was covering second base when Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez made a steal attempt there was an awkward collision that saw Hernandez’ cleat get caught up in Pedroia’s shoelace. After a few moments Dustin waived off Cora and the training staff and we all took a deep breath.
"“My knee can’t get any worse so it’s going to be alright,” Pedroia joked."
The big thing to take away from Dustin Pedroia making his return to the field on Tuesday was the positivity and glimpses of the old Dustin. He was able to flash some leather and get some good contact from the bat, something we haven’t seen in ages. With the positivity of the ring ceremony prior to the game and just getting back out there and playing a full 9 innings was an accomplishment.
Dustin himself has spoken about all the negativity coming from the injury and how there wasn’t much positive so to be able to play once again, that’s what he needed. This is big for the Red Sox as well as it not only brings a veteran presence back to a relatively young team but it also brings a constant to their lineup.
"“To be able to play in the home opener, it meant a lot to me,” Pedroia said. “I feel like I accomplished something out of this. During the whole thing, I really haven’t had any good news or anything. I’d see a doctor and (he’d give me) bad news. At some point you want something good.”"
If Dustin can continue to shake off the rust and play day in and day out, that will be huge for the title defense hopes. With the team in a major slump right now they need anything they can get and Pedroia can provide that spark to get them back on track. The return of Dustin Pedroia means big things not only for himself but for this team that is lost as far as 2019 is concerned. Pedroia can provide the character and the breath of life that this team desperately needs.