FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia might as well hand out gift baskets, as his long list of double-play partners is similar to Derek Jeterâs dating history.
The Boston Red Sox have lacked shortstop stability since Nomar Garciaparra was traded to the Chicago Cubs before the 2004 trade deadline. The frequent changes havenât been damaging, though, as Pedroia has taken charge in the middle of the Red Soxâs infield since his 2007 Rookie of the Year campaign.
âRegardless of the changes, Dustinâs role has remained the same,â manager John Farrell said at JetBlue Park on Friday. âHeâs been the leader of our team up the middle. Whether itâs in terms of positioning, whether itâs in our cutoffs and relays, heâs the pivotal guy in all that.â
Pedroia will have another partner up the middle in 2014, as rookie Xander Bogaerts figures to be the Red Soxâs everyday shortstop. Bogaertsâ minimal major league experience — 30 games between the regular season and playoffs, eight of which he played shortstop — could really test Pedroiaâs defensive acumen this season, but Farrell remains confident in his second basemanâs ability to adjust. After all, this script has played out before.
âI think heâs dealt with as best we could have ever hoped,â Farrell said regarding Pedroiaâs history of working with new infield partners. âHeâs had good players play alongside him, but letâs face it, the more repetition you get with a partner up the middle, youâre going to have a better read on the nuances and being able to anticipate things at a greater rate. Weâre looking forward to establishing that continuity going forward.â
Bogaerts, ranked the No. 2 prospect in Major League Baseball, has tremendous potential, so itâs possible the Red Soxâs newest double-play tandem will stick together for a while, even if theyâre still getting their feet wet working together in Fort Myers.
âI havenât worked out with him a lot because he came later in spring,â Bogaerts said Saturday, âSo weâve just had a few days of working out and just now Iâm getting to know him better because I was at third base in the postseason.â
The Red Soxâs 2014 plans could shift if the club decides to re-sign Stephen Drew, who was Pedroiaâs main partner up the middle in 2013. But Bogaerts said he is focusing on preparing to play shortstop, which is a challenge the 21-year-old feels will be made easier by Pedroiaâs aptitude.
âHeâs an All-Star second baseman, an MVP and a Gold Glove so he definitely knows what heâs talking about,â Bogaerts said.