BOSTON — Dustin Pedroia gave everyone a scare when he fouled a ball off his shin in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game. But was there really any doubt that he’d be in Sunday’s lineup?
Pedroia, who stayed in Saturday’s game to finish off his at-bat before being replaced defensively by Brock Holt, was penciled into John Farrell’s lineup card Sunday, and the Red Sox skipper had little concern about the health status of his second baseman. That’s because Pedroia has shown throughout his eight-year career that a few bumps and bruises aren’t going to keep him off the field.
“Oh, if his name wasn’t in the lineup, I guarantee you he’d be in my office,” Farrell said. “He’s earned the right to speak his mind, and we trust what he says, with how he feels or what he’s feeling at the plate or any area of his game. So honestly, coming in here today, this wasn’t even a second thought in my mind that he wouldn’t be in the lineup.”
Pedroia enters Sunday’s series finale against the Yankees having played in 124 of Boston’s 125 games. It speaks to his passion for the game, his willingness to grind and his desire to contribute every day, even if he’s not 100 percent when arriving at the ballpark. The Red Sox — or any professional sports team, for that matter — couldn’t ask for much more in a leader.
“He leads by example and situations like this or his thumb, or how he goes about every at-bat [and] the way he plays defense,” Farrell said. “We also know he’s a vocal leader in his own right, but his actions speak volumes and much louder than anything he could possibly say. He’s full of grit, as we know, and he sets the tone for how we play this game.
“Winning is most important,” Farrell later added. “The game and his family are the two most important things in his life. What we all witness in Dustin, we see it in the clubhouse every day. There’s no false pretenses with him. He’s about one thing, and that’s winning for the Red Sox.”
Pedroia has certainly set the tone again this season. He has provided the intangibles and hard-nosed style of play that we’re accustomed to seeing, and he has provided an offensive spark out of the No. 3 spot in Boston’s lineup, even if he doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional No. 3 hitter.
“When our top three guys are getting on base, we’ve got so much more ability to be active on the base paths,” Farrell said. “When [Shane] Victorino is doing what he’s capable of in the two hole, I think it just gives us the ability to have our on-base guys at the top of the order. There’s an argument to be made where [Daniel] Nava could be in one of those top two or three slots as well, but I think there’s a lot of value in being consistent every day when guys walk in and they know where they’re going to be at in the lineup.”
Farrell’s lineup will certainly fluctuate down the stretch. Whether it’s because of injuries, built-in off-days or certain inconsistencies, things will inevitably get jumbled during the Red Sox’ remaining schedule. But Pedroia is one guy who Farrell can pencil in each day.
No self-inflicting foul ball is going to change that.
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