Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s future remains unclear after shutting down is rehab assignment but he’s not ready to retire.
Many expected Dustin Pedroia‘s press conference this afternoon to be a retirement announcement. As he sat between Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowsi, the veteran second baseman revealed that he was taking a break from his rehab assignment but stopped short of calling his career over.
The 2008 MVP underwent left knee surgery after the 2017 season and was limited to three games last year. He played briefly following a delayed start to this season but lasted only six games before re-aggravating his knee in a game against the New York Yankees on April 17.
The Red Sox placed Pedroia on the 10-day injured list with left knee irritation but the setback proved to be a bit more serious than that. His rehab assignments since then have hit a few snags, the most recent of which came last Friday when he was removed from a game with Double-A Portland with knee soreness.
He hasn’t appeared on the field since and nobody knows, not even Pedroia himself, when he will again. The Red Sox transferred Pedroia to the 60-day IL prior to this afternoon’s press conference, leading many fans to wonder if the end was near for the franchise icon.
Pedroia has been living every athlete’s nightmare since suffering this career-altering injury. He’s undergone multiple surgeries and a strenuous rehabilitation process with limited results. Every time he gets close to feeling ready, another setback forces him restart the process. This frustrating cycle has been draining, both physically and mentally.
The 35-year old isn’t quite ready to admit to himself that it’s time to hand up his cleats but he understandably needs to take a step back from the daily grind of fighting his way back.
"“Time will go on and I’ll know more about it,” Pedroia said during his press conference, as seen on NESN. “I haven’t sat down and thought about retirement. I just now that right now I need a break from the everyday stresses and dealing what I’m dealing with.”"
The surgery that has been recommended to Pedroia has potential long-term ramifications that could hinder him down the line. Pedroia wants to be able to walk away from the game of baseball while he’s still able to, well, walk. He’s already gone under the knife on more than one occasion to try to fix his knee and he’s not considering that path as an option this time.
Pedroia is taking a step back to spend time with his family and give his body a chance to rest. It also gives him an opportunity to think about his future. He’s been putting in the work, pushing himself to his limits to do whatever it takes to get back on the field. Perhaps now he’s realizing that he needs to take a moment to consider if that’s really what’s best for him.
"“Some days, I feel fine, and an hour later, walking is tough,” said Pedroia. “If I’m on an hour to hour basis of being able to do anything athletically, that’s tough. I think the time will give me the right answer of if I can do this.”"
It’s clear that Pedroia wants to continue his career but whether or not his body will allow it is another story. Some time away from the game could be exactly what he needs to recharge his batteries and mentally prepare for the strain of one last comeback attempt. The time off could also give Pedroia the chance to find peace with the decision that his playing days are over.
Pedroia’s comments this afternoon lacked his usual swagger. He didn’t show the confidence he’s always had in his ability to overcome any obstacle. He’s not ready to thrown in the towel but he can’t confirm if he’ll be able to play again. Today’s press conference wasn’t a retirement announcement but it may have been the warm up to an eventual farewell speech.