The Red Sox and Dustin Pedroia need to realize a harsh truth

BOSTON, MA - MAY 29: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on May 29, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 29: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on May 29, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

After what seems like another injury setback for Dustin Pedroia, it’s time for the Boston Red Sox to realize he isn’t in the plans for the future.

One of the very few positives for the Red Sox this season has been the return of long-time second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Pedey has been a part of the organization since he stormed onto the scene in 2007 and became an instant favorite of the Fenway Faithful. Sadly, those days seem like they’re from another lifetime.

Dustin hasn’t been his usual self at the plate in 2019  but he’s also barely played in the last two years so that’s to be expected. He hasn’t made any significant waves at the plate but to those watching, there was still a level of optimism.

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He was seeing the ball well and making solid contact. It seemed to just be a matter of time before the Laser Show of old would return. He’d also been given several rest days from the field even though his defense had looked like it was in strong form.

Just as things were looking up for Dustin they also seem to be crashing down. During his first at-bat against the Yankees Tuesday night he hit a routine pop fly and didn’t show any signs of damage. The next inning came around and it was announced that Pedroia would be replaced by Eduardo Nunez for the remainder of the game.

Instantly you could hear the collective sigh from all of Red Sox Nation as questions began to form about Pedroia. Jeff Passan would report during the broadcast that Pedey came back to the dugout after the pop-out and let Alex Cora know that he was feeling discomfort in his surgically repaired left knee. The same left knee that has kept Pedroia from playing meaningful baseball since the summer of 2017.

While speaking to the media on Wednesday night, Alex Cora gave insight into the conversation he had with Pedroia as he got back to the dugout.

"“He felt something weird in his knee,” manager Alex Cora said. “He finished the at-bat, and came up to me, like, ‘Hey man, it didn’t feel right there.’ I decided to take him out.”"

Boston has done everything they can to try and get Pedey into the best shape possible. Between doctors, physical therapy and rehab assignments, there’s only so much that can be done. After the amount of damage that his left knee has taken between the initial injury and the multiple attempts to repair it, he’s never going to feel close to 100 percent.

Dave Dombrowski was a guest on WEEI’s Dale & Keefe show and he dove a bit deeper into the situation though not much information is available yet. The plan is to get what information they can from initial medical reports and then have Pedroia meet the team in St. Petersburg while the Red Sox play the Rays.

"“He felt a pop I think he said yesterday, I’m not sure, but the number of things that he’s had going on with that knee, as we know, the knee is never going to be 100 percent,” Dombrowski said on WEEI. “It’s amazing that any player can play with what he’s gone through. He continues to battle through it.”"

So now we are at a point where both the Red Sox and Dustin need to look at the big picture. Pedroia won’t be a free agent until 2022 and is set to make a pretty hefty salary until his current deal ends. It seems that with this latest setback could be what forces either Dustin or the Red Sox to make a tough decision. With this season starting off as poorly as it possibly could there may need to be some changes made.

If Pedey can’t produce for the Red Sox in a way that helps the team it very well may be time to cut ties with the former MVP. Now that will be easier said than done because every team out there will know his medical history and know that he isn’t the Pedroia of old. But they also can’t keep him around just for nostalgia.

Now, this could all just be a precaution and he may just be nervous after all he’s gone through with the knee but at 35 years old precautions will only get you so far. The Red Sox have two possible replacements already on the main roster in Nunez and Brock Holt. They also have very promising players in the minors in Michael Chavis and Tzu-Wei Lin, who are both performing well currently.

Pedroia has been a key member of the Red Sox since he was called up in 2006 and then had a breakout 2007 leading to a World Series title and Rookie of the Year honors. He would continue the trend he started in in his ROY campaign in 2008 which would earn him the AL MVP award. He is a key member of both the 2007 and 2013 World Series winning squads. Though he only played in three games in 2018 he was honored with a World Series ring.

His history and tenure with the Red Sox are what every franchise dreams of. A player drafted into the system that not only lives up to his potential but eclipses it. Nobody ever expected Pedroia to do the things he did but his work ethic and tenacity are what earned him the love of every member of Red Sox Nation. Laser Show has been the heart and soul of the franchise since he arrived, but it seems like his time is up.

So where do the Red Sox and Pedroia go from here? It was reported last night that he will once again be making his way to the IL. Not an ideal announcement for the team, player or fans but it’s the bridge we now have to cross. Boston won’t be able to move Dustin while he’s injured and even when he is “healthy” his injury history and contract don’t make him an ideal trade candidate.

So if they’re going to keep him in house then what’s best for all parties? Much like in 2018 they could keep him on the roster with attempts to bring him back to active duty throughout the year. That’s what the most realistic scenario is to me when looking at the situation. Keep him on the roster and available if the left knee is feeling good and he can go.

There is always the pending thought of retirement in the future but based on what he’s put himself through to get back to the field I doubt Pedey has ever considered the idea of retiring. If he came out tomorrow and said that when 2019 concludes so will his career, I wouldn’t be shocked. I also would fully understand if and when he decides to walk away considering the hell he’s put himself through over the last two years.

Even though time isn’t on his side as he’ll turn 36  by the end of the season. I’d hate to see Pedroia no longer donning a Red Sox uniform but it feels like we may need to prepare for that scenario. In my ideal world, Pedey would transition to a member of the coaching staff and would become a mentor to the younger guys.

I feel he has a great mind for the game and can be a major asset to the club from the bench. I also think it’d be great for him to gain experience as it sure seems to me that he’d be a top hire if he decides to become a manager when he eventually retires.

He came through the system, has won in the system and carries the values of the organization. He can become a great addition to AC’s coaching staff or even become an ambassador much like Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz. To me in a perfect world even when he’s done playing the Red Sox would find a way to continue to use him in daily operations.

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A shining example of how to play the game the right way as well as a cautionary tale of what can go wrong. Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox are synonymous with each other but as 2019 marches on it may be the time that both realize the harsh truth that it’s time to write a new chapter in the relationship. If that is what is coming on the horizon then I’d say without a shadow of a doubt that it’s been a hell of a ride.