Dustin Pedroia has been the heart and soul of the Red Sox for almost a decade now. He’s a clubhouse leader, a top defender at his position, he’s a former Rookie of the Year and MVP, and he’s won two World Series in Boston. He gives everything he has night in and night out and Red Sox fans love him because of it.
But he’s getting to a point in his career where many fans are ready to move on from him, whether by trading him or by releasing him.
Pedroia was put back on the 10-day DL last Saturday after only playing in three games, due to left knee inflammation. This is the same knee on which he had surgery over the offseason. Last season, when he aggravated a preexisting injury, it required surgery. But this year, that isn’t the case. In fact, it seems like all he really needed was some more time.
Dustin Pedroia: "I'm kind of the first one through going through this for a position player. We just gotta be smart.
"The surgery worked but we're still at a point where time is the best thing. The more time I'm out from surgery the better I'm gonna get."
Even with this encouraging news, many of the aforementioned fans are ready to say that enough is enough. But Pedroia apologists still aren’t ready to give up on the beloved second baseman.
Both sides of the argument have their merits.
On the one hand, Pedroia has been on and off of the disabled list five times since the beginning of last season, with all but one of those stints being because of his left knee. With a bad knee and the fact that he’s 34, there’s good reason to wonder if we’ll ever see him at full strength again. This is not to mention that he’s had a plethora of other injuries throughout his thirteen year career. Since 2013, Pedroia’s only played a full season twice and has only had an OPS over .800 once.
Those are frustrating for sure. But Pedroia is too good to just move on from. He’s consistently among the league leaders in batting average and on base percentage, he doesn’t strike out very often, and he hits a lot of doubles using all fields. And as mentioned earlier, he’s a premier fielder who gives everything he has. Though Alex Cora has said the Red Sox have asked Pedroia to not go all-out to the extreme where he would be risking injury.
“The guy that we want is the healthy one that can contribute offensively and defensively,” Cora told reporters. “Now it’s on us as far as a workload. But he understands that he has to slow it down a little bit.”
So maybe that will work. Pedroia can still work his butt off day in and day out, but not risk getting hurt. And he’s mature enough to understand what he needs to do. He has a team first attitude, so whatever he can do to help the team win, he will do. Right now, what the team needs is him to be healthy so that he can help them in a (hopefully) long playoff run.
They’ll need him for the playoffs, but they don’t necessarily need him now. They don’t need him to rush back. Thankfully, they seem to have realized this. As Barstool Sports’ Jared Carrabis pointed out, the Red Sox could play .500 ball the rest of the season and still finish with 93 wins. It’s almost a guarantee that they’ll play well above that pace. In fact, they’re on pace for 112 wins, which would easily be the most in franchise history. And this has just about all been without Pedroia in the lineup. Sure, there’s the chance they’ll fall off that pace, but barring the unforeseen, they won’t collapse. This isn’t 2011.
Brock Holt and Eduardo Núñez are doing a fine job in Pedroia’s place for now. As I wrote earlier this week, Holt is having the best season of his career and Núñez has been hitting well of late. By the time one or both of them start to slump, Pedroia will be back and healthy and ready to produce the way we’ve all become accustomed to.
So even though he’s 34, injury prone, and still has three years left on his contract, it’s not time to give up on Dustin Pedroia. At least, not yet.
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