One exchange of text messages truly personifies the 2013 Red Sox.
Dustin Pedroia, who is expected to undergo offseason thumb surgery, played all season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. It was the ultimate display of grit by Boston’s energetic second baseman, and according to Pedroia, a text message from teammate Jacoby Ellsbury helped inspire him to play through the pain.
Pedroia suffered his thumb injury on Opening Day while diving headfirst into first base. At that point, surgery seemed likely. According to ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan, Pedroia began mentally preparing for an operation, a cast and weeks watching from the dugout. A brief exchange between Pedroia and Ellsbury changed everything, though, and the second baseman ultimately decided to gut it out for the remainder of the season.
“We had a day off and I got checked out and then I got this news,” Pedroia reportedly said. “I’m driving home and I’m just sick about it. Then I get this text from Jacoby. He says, ‘Are you OK?’
“I tell him, ‘I’ve torn the ligaments in my thumb. I might need surgery.’ He comes back with, ‘Is there any way you can play through it? We need you.'”
Anyone who has seen Pedroia play knows that he doesn’t need any extra motivation. He goes full-throttle every time he steps foot onto the field, and if he’s able to physically play, you can rest assured that he wants his name penciled into the starting lineup. But, as MacMullan reports, Ellsbury’s text message really struck a chord inside of Boston’s catalyst.
“Jacoby hasn’t said something like that to me in seven years we’ve been together,” Pedroia reportedly said. “I looked at [my wife] Kelly, and I told her about Jacoby’s text. Then I said, ‘I gotta play with this. He would do it for me. All the guys would. I have to do it for them.'”
Sure enough, Pedroia played in 160 regular-season games and all 16 of Boston’s playoff games despite the thumb injury, which he’ll now have repaired this winter. The 30-year-old’s power was somewhat limited, but he was otherwise the same fiery competitor and productive player that he’s always been.
Pedroia, who ended the playoffs without a single home run, even thinks that two long fly balls — one versus Max Scherzer in Game 6 of the ALCS and one versus Michael Wacha in Game 6 of the World Series — would have had different fates had it not been for his ailment.
“I couldn’t follow through with my swing because of my thumb,” Pedroia reportedly said. “That’s why I was hooking the ball. If I’m healthy, both of those balls probably stay fair.”
Perhaps Pedroia is right. Maybe he would have ended the postseason with a couple of homers had it not been for his ailing thumb. Who knows? It doesn’t really matter.
What matters is that Pedroia left it all on the field in 2013, as did Ellsbury, and the Red Sox are champions because of it.