When Dustin Pedroia descended upon Foxwoods Resort Casino last year for Baseball Winter Weekend, the Boston Red Sox second baseman walked around with swagger, telling reporters he had been lifting all offseason in the hopes of regaining the power he lost in 2014.
This year was a different story.
Don?t worry. Pedroia still had his trademark confidence Saturday at the Red Sox?s annual event. He just wasn?t ready to rip off his shirt like the Incredible Hulk, mostly because he tweaked his offseason training regimen to become a more well-rounded force in 2016.
?Just trying to do everything,? Pedroia said. ?I want beat other teams 10 different ways, man — stealing bags, hitting singles, doubles, making plays. That?s what I?m trying to do. That?s my focus, not just on one thing.?
To be fair, a bulked-up Pedroia wasn?t one to mess with when healthy in 2015. He bounced back from posting career-lows across the board in 2014 to hit .291 with 12 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .797 OPS in 93 games. The problem was Pedroia again missed a significant chunk of time — this time because of a hamstring injury — and that?s been a frustrating trend for the four-time All-Star.
?I lost strength (in 2014) because I think I played 178 games in 2013 with my thumb hurting the whole year. So when I had surgery, I got a late start because we won (the World Series) and it just threw everything off,? Pedroia said, looking back on his last few seasons. ?I didn?t get a chance to build that strength up, and then you go into a season not as strong as possible. And then I?m not a big guy. I need that. It affects you.
?And then I had a wrist thing (in 2014). So my main focus (last offseason) was to get my strength back and to make sure that my bat speed?s back and everything like that. I focused more on that than overall training to be an athlete.?
One could argue that while Pedroia flashed more power last season, the 32-year-old did so at the expense of what?s made him a great player throughout his career. Defensive metrics suggest Pedroia regressed in the field, and he stole just two bases, marking a career-low.
?I?m trying to be an athlete, not do certain things. You know what I mean,? Pedroia said of reverting back to a normal routine this winter. ?I?m not just trying to hit home runs or drive the ball. I?m trying to, whatever?s thrown at me, be able to acclimate and make a play. That?s it. I?m just training to be an athlete instead of more sport-specific.?
Pedroia?s always going to chirp. And chances are he?ll always hit. But when he?s also running and fielding at an optimum level, few players across Major League Baseball bring what he brings to the table.
Athletic Pedroia is the best Pedroia.
Thumbnail photo via Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports Images