Dustin Pedroia plays hurt all the time. But just how hurt and how long he plays hurt can still be surprising.
Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald reports that Pedroia has been playing with a completely torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb all season after hurting his hand on Opening Day when sliding headfirst into a base.
The recovery time for such an injury is usually eight weeks, but Pedroia has spent the last eight weeks playing — every single game, in fact, the only Red Sox player to do so.
Pedroia, who is clipping along with a .334 average, .422 on-base percentage and 28 RBIs, wasn’t exactly trumpeting the news that he’d been playing hurt.
“People shouldn’t know if you’re 100 percent or not,” he told Silverman. “It is what it is, and it’s my responsibility to perform well. My mindset is if I’m nicked up, I have to find other ways to perform. That’s the way I think about it. Maybe I’m crazy.”
Pedroia found out the UCL was torn shortly after he injured it April 1 in the final inning of an 8-2 win over the Yankees. An MRI showed a complete tear, although Silverman notes it can’t be known whether the tear had already happened or occurred during the slide. The area was discolored and sore, but doctors said Pedroia could keep playing “if he could withstand the symptoms and that he would not risk doing long-term damage,” Silverman reports.
“Yeah, I’m smarter than a lot of people think I am,” Pedroia said of deciding to keep playing. “I understood. You go and come back in eight weeks — that’s a lot of ballgames without one of the team’s best players, so my job’s to go out there and do the best job I can to help the team win.
“That’s the way I look at things. … It’s a player’s decision to shut it down or play. Players play.”
The Red Sox were already without David Ortiz as the season began, and many questions lingered about a lineup that was almost completely turned over from the previous season. Having Pedroia provided not only another solid bat but also leadership as the new season began.
Pedroia also played through a thumb injury last year, albeit on his right hand.