With the shortstop situation in Boston looking as if it's in shambles, is it possible that the solution has been wearing a Red Sox jersey all along?
It could be, and that answer could come in the form of Dustin Pedroia.
"They've asked me if I think I could play shortstop," Pedroia told ESPN's Peter Gammons. "They've put it out there and I've told them I'm all for it. I can do it. I can't wait for Tito [Terry Francona] to call me and ask, 'Can you do it?' I can do it. I really want to do it."
Pedroia was a shortstop at Arizona State University, where he won the job over Ian Kinsler. In the minors, Pedroia played in 132 games at shortstop and 130 games at second base (as well as four games at third). He posted fielding percentages of .988 at both positions, yet his range factor per game was slightly higher at second base (4.62) than it was at short (4.24).
The 26-year-old is already setting his sights high.
"When the idea of moving back to shortstop was floated to me, I welcomed it," Pedroia said. "I'm excited. Tell Derek [Jeter] to enjoy the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards while he can. Obviously, I'm not serious about the fun I have with Derek, but I'm never stopping believing in the goal. I believe I can play shortstop and help get the Red Sox back where they belong."
Gammons notes that if the Red Sox did move Pedroia to shortstop, it wouldn't be a career-changing move, with Jose Iglesias expected to be ready for the majors by 2012. He also says that the Red Sox may have questions about signing free-agent shortstop Marco Scutaro and that signing "an everyday, defensive second baseman like Orlando Hudson" might be easier.
Scouts and coaches will immediately point to Pedroia's size — or lack thereof — in questioning his ability to play shortstop. Yet dealing with doubt is something Pedroia's done since high school, and he said he now understands what it takes to be a successful shortstop — knowledge he said he lacked when Francona tried him out at shortstop in spring training of 2006.
"Look, I was 20 pounds heavier. I tried to get big and it was a disaster," he said. "I know it. It's all about quickness, agility and flexibility, and I know it.
"I've really worked hard on speed, agility and flexibility as well as all the strength, conditioning and endurance programs," Pedroia added. "It's really helping me. I have much more quickness and speed than I ever had. Maybe there is some question about my arm strength, but I'm working on that. I can do it. I hope it happens."
Pedroia's already won Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove awards, AL MVP honors and a World Series title. His resume is as stacked as it gets for a player with three full seasons in the bigs. Yet his eagerness to make the switch to shortstop in order to help the team in any way possible shows that he's never content and is always looking to improve.
You could go ahead and doubt him, but with Pedroia, that's never a safe thing to do.