Dustin Pedroia has spent most of the past two seasons navigating the unknown while battling a knee injury he originally suffered when Manny Machado slid into his leg at second base on April 21, 2017.
Yet there’s also a bit of familiarity at play.
You see, Pedroia has made a career of silencing skeptics, to the point where he’s one of the most universally respected players in Major League Baseball — a four-time All-Star, a three-time World Series champion, the 2008 American League MVP and a model of hustle and grit. And he’s now hell-bent on shutting up his doubters again when the Boston Red Sox defend their title in 2019.
“Put it this way, I just look at my whole career and nobody expected me to do what I did, and I’ve enjoyed proving everyone wrong,” Pedroia recently told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. “I think I have to do it one more time. That’s it. And that’s going to be fun. I enjoy that. And I hope it turns out the way it did the first time.”
Pedroia, who underwent surgery on his left knee in October 2017, rarely is the biggest, strongest or most talented guy on the field. He’s also dealt with various other injuries throughout his big league career that have cast uncertainty over his availability and potential production. Yet he continuously has defied the odds. Why should this setback be any different?
“This is the way I look at my whole situation,” the Red Sox second baseman told Bradford. “In 2013, after Opening Day, I tore my UCL in my left thumb completely off the bone and was told after Opening Day that I need surgery and was going to miss 8-12 weeks. And I played 178 games and I think I finished seventh in the MVP voting and we won the World Series.
“If you ask any medical expert, can a human being play? … So basically every time I caught a ball my thumb bent back here. Every single medical person would say that cannot happen. But it did, and the team saw me do that. So if anybody can do this, I can. That’s the way I’m sure our team is looking at it, and that’s the way I’m looking at it, too.”
Pedroia played in just three games in 2018 after appearing in 105 regular-season games in 2017. His exact status remains unclear — “We’ll know more about that in January,” Red Sox president of baseball operations told reporters Monday at the MLB winter meetings in Las Vegas — but there’s been no indication Boston plans to pursue a new starting second baseman this winter.
And if history is any indication, it’d be foolish to write off Pedroia, who turned 35 in August. Not only has he surprised folks many times during his 13-year career, he also takes great pride in doing so.