BOSTON — Everyone knows what Terry Francona thinks of Dustin Pedroia. The former Red Sox manager has never had a negative thing to say about the second baseman, at least not when it comes to baseball. Cribbage and Pedroia's looks are different matters altogether.
Pedroia's new manager has taken a liking to Pedroia, as well. Even after Pedroia publicly scolded Bobby Valentine after the manager questioned Kevin Youkilis way back in April, Valentine can't help but marvel at the way the second baseman plays the game.
After Pedroia sparked the Sox with three RBIs on Monday night in a 7-3 win over the Tigers, Valentine gave the sparkplug second baseman the ultimate praise.
"Dustin is the most determined, talented player I've ever seen," marveled Valentine.
The assessment isn't necessarily hyperbole, either, as Pedroia is as fiery as ever, and his bat is starting to come around again. He's battled thumb issues all season, but he's finally starting to look healthy again, and the results are difficult to argue.
He has a hit in all but three of the games he's played in July, and his two-run home run on Monday night give him three in his last five games.
"He was upset he left a man on second base with two outs [in a previous at-bat]," Valentine said of Pedroia's towering homer to left field. "He came up in that situation, and he was going to make something happen."
Pedroia also drove in a run in the first inning with a groundout and played his usual stellar defense at second base. It was essentially just another night at the ballpark for the club's proven leader, as he tries to spark some sort of late-summer push for a team that's struggled to find consistency all year.
While Pedroia and Valentine may never strike up the kinship that the former MVP shared with Francona, it's pretty apparent there aren't many players Valentine would rather have leading his team.