The Boston Red Sox had a familiar visitor in the clubhouse this week as veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia joined the team while they were in Colorado.
It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen Dustin Pedroia in a Red Sox uniform. Boston fans were treated to that very sight as he joined the team during their two-game series in Denver against the Rockies.
He was in town or a follow-up to his most recent knee procedure and stayed to be in the dugout during the games. It was a bit poetic to see Dustin back in a Sox uniform just days after the football world was rocked by Andrew Luck’s premature retirement.
Though Dustin has been in the pros for far longer than Luck their injury histories are both incredibly painful, literally. Each has suffered through multiple surgeries as well as setbacks on the road to recovery.
With his latest procedure, Dustin made it clear that his first mission it to better his day-to-day quality of life before any thoughts of baseball cross his mind. Earlier this year after another setback to his left knee, he decided to shut himself down for the season and take a sabbatical.
When you look at the two messages between Luck and Pedroia they don’t sound very different. Both spoke of the mental and physical toll that constantly being in rehab and physical therapy just to have something get in their way, is beyond defeating. Luck made the decision that he was going to walk away while he could still play with his kids and live a happy life without accumulating more damage to his body. At this point in his career should Dustin think about doing the same?
"“There was a couple times I threw batting practice to my kids and the next three days, I was not moving,” Pedroia said. “When you can’t do things like that, it stinks. We had to do something. This was the next step. Obviously, going forward, throughout my life I’m going to have more surgeries on my knee. Hopefully, for right now, this can bide me time for what leads ahead.”"
I want to begin by saying I am a die-hard Dustin Pedroia fan. Nomar Garciaparra was my first favorite and still is my all-time, but Dustin isn’t too far behind in the rankings. The way that he played the game every single night while in a Red Sox uniform should be exactly how players are coached to play. He gave everything he had in the field and at the plate to allow Boston to have the best chance possible to win, and that’s all you can ask from a player.
If we can take anything from the news of Luck retiring so early in his career it’s that sometimes the game just isn’t as important in the grand scheme of life. I know, blasphemy, right? Well, guess what? It’s pretty damn true when you take a step back. With everything that Dustin has been through with his knee, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if he decided to hang up the cleats for good.
He’s spoken on a few occasions that just usual things you and I can do fairly regularly are a challenge for him. He was rendered damn near unable to walk after tossing batting practice to his kids. That’s something most of us wouldn’t even have a second thought about but due to the condition of his knee, it’s not that easy for the veteran.
"“It has been good. Room service, he picks it up,” manager Alex Cora said. “A lot of talking. Spent some time with him yesterday. The usual. He wants to talk about his knee, I want to talk about something else. It’s good to have him around. He’s in a good place. Feels very positive about what went on the last few weeks as far as his knee. We’ll see where it takes us.”"
Dustin gave his everything to the Red Sox and though he is still on the hook for a decent salary, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t been worth every penny. He made a name for himself during that 2007 season that would see him win Rookie of the Year honors. Don’t forget that he followed that campaign up with a freakin’ MVP win in 2008. Add in the numerous season where he was the best second baseman in several categories and killed it at the plate.
think it’s safe to say we’ll see #15 up with the rest of the numbers soon after he hangs it up. It’s just a matter of when he thinks the time is right and with each passing day, I think Red Sox Nation expects him back less and less. I could see him looking at what Luck decided for his future and wondering if that’s the best path for him and his family. It’s hard to say it’s not after everything he’s been through.
"“I need to strengthen my quad and the inside part of my leg because it has been through a lot the past few years,” Pedroia said. “The doctor told me, ‘Once you get all the strength back, your knee will tell you if you can play baseball or if that’s it.’”"
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It’s a relief to me as a fan of his to see Dustin in such a great mindset and to see him so positive about his future. If we look back to that press conference where he announced his sabbatical his body language just gave off a vibe of defeat, much like we saw from Luck this weekend. There’s only so much you can do when you give something your everything just to have it taken away time ad time again. Kinda like Peppermint Patty always pulling the football away from Charlie Brown at the last second.
The Red Sox will eventually have to step in and make their voice heard as well as they’re beginning to have a logjam at second base. With Michael Chavis and Marco Hernandez both stepping up huge in Dustin’s absence as well as the possible re-signing of Brock Holt, there aren’t any spots open at the six-hole. It may get to the point where Boston transitions Pedroia into a coach/consultant type role that still allows him to earn his salary and contribute to the team.
The sports world got rocked when Andrew Luck announced his retirement from professional football at just 29 years old this past weekend. After a multitude of injuries had made everyday life tough for the quarterback, he decided to hang em up. Dustin Pedroia finds himself in a similar situation where injuries have accumulated to the point he can’t have a comfortable life. It might be for the best if Dustin took a lesson from Luck and decided to call it a day and ride off into the sunset.