Mar. 12, 2017
Second Baseman Dustin Pedroia will provide veteran leadership without Ortiz
The 2017 Red Sox will have a different feel to it than the years of the past. The biggest change being that their face of the franchise since 2003, David Ortiz, will be spending time on the beaches of the Dominican Republic rather than punching in on Yawkey Way this summer. It's a team filled with young stars and elite talent up and down the roster. Even without Big Papi suiting up, expectations are high in Boston. After winning the American League East last season, the Sox were swept in three games by the Cleveland Indians. But President Dave Dombrowski and the Sox front office pulled off a trade and added lefty ace Chris Sale to go along with Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello and former Cy Young winner David Price. They have MVP runner up Mookie Betts returning for his fourth season, a 5- tool player who has bursted onto the scene as one of the faces of Major League Baseball. Betts is potentially the next face of the franchise, but for a team as young as these Sox, they will need a veteran presence to keep the clubhouse in check. David Ortiz was this guy for years, now that torch has been passed to Second Baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Now the longest tenure player on the Sox roster, Pedroia will enter his 11th season with the club. He was the Rookie of the Year back in 2007, the same year the Sox won the World Series in a four game sweep over the Colorado Rockies. A year later, Pedroia won the league MVP, becoming only the sixth player to win both Rookie of the year and MVP in back to back seasons. Nine years after his MVP season, Pedroia is now 33 years old, and will be the veteran presence that a clubhouse filled with young players needs throughout a long and sometimes up and down baseball season.“He’s the elder statesman, the long standing player here,” Manager John Farrell told the Boston Herald. “He’s been a leader in his own right and will continue to be that. … I think eyes will go to Pedey for one who has been a champion multiple times, has experienced so many different sides of baseball in Boston. He’ll be a steady force for a lot of our young players.” Pedroia defiantly fits the bill as the unofficial captain. He goes out there every game and plays his heart out. He never takes a play off, and you can bet he'll be diving all over the place and getting his jersey dirty. Ortiz was always the vocal leader of the Sox clubhouse but Pedroia is the heart and soul of what the franchise stands for.
When he is healthy, Pedroia has proved that he is one of the elite second baseman's in all of baseball. After injuries affected his last two seasons, Pedroia returned to form last year. His .318 batting average ranked 3rd in the American League, collecting 201 hits and scoring 105 runs in a lineup that scored the most runs in the league in 2016. The four time gold glove award winner also played stellar defense, and in my opinion got snubbed of winning his 5th last year. Pedroia will again bat in the leadoff position this season, a spot he thrived in last year. He was sixth in the American League last year in on base percentage, and has been one of the best table setters in the league throughout his career. The Sox will need another full season from Pedroia if they want to win another World Series. Which is why he has taken training advice from another Boston great, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Pedroia told WEEI radio that he carried some of Brady's training techniques into his offseason program. That should be great advice, given the fact Brady hasn't missed a game due to injury since he tore his ACL back in 2008.
As Opening Day approaches, the post-David Ortiz era in Boston will officially begin. It may be different for the fans and media members covering the team, but not for the new leader of the charge. Pedroia won't have to go in the clubhouse everyday and fire the team up to get them going. Instead, Pedroia will just continue to do what he has done his whole career. He will lead by example by putting it all on the line for 162 games. "Yeah, I don't look at it any differently than previous years," Pedroia told Ian Browne of MLB.com. "You show up to win every day. That's what we're going to try to do. Obviously the guys know if they need anything they can come to me or anybody. That's what we're going to try to do."