Dustin Pedroia tried like hell to defy the odds, but not even he could do something that’s never been done before.
The Boston Red Sox second baseman announced his retirement Monday, and in the process, he revealed he underwent a partial knee replacement in December. That nagging knee ultimately ended his career, and it became inevitable playing baseball no longer was in his future when he went under the knife.
Getting to that point, however, might have been the most difficult part of the whole process starting last January.
“I was still working, still trying to get ready to come back and play, and I woke up one morning, and my knee was huge,” Pedroia told the media Monday in a video conference call.
That led Pedroia to have the knee checked (again), although this time was especially bad with the infielder saying his knee “looked like an explosion went off there.”
Doctors told Pedroia he’d need a partial knee replacement. However, by the time that decision was made and Pedroia committed to going under the knife, the coronavirus pandemic hit, further complicating the process. What followed was a painful process both physically and mentally, as Pedroia’s rehab efforts were then centered on just living his life, never mind playing professional baseball.
“I wasn’t in a good place,” he admitted Monday. “I couldn’t — I grinded every day just to be able to play with my kids and just live a normal life.”
Finally, Pedroia was able to have the surgery in December, and it didn’t take long to see the results.
“A week later, I could tell I could walk without pain and basically do everything except run,” he said.
It was at that point, though, it became clear a return to baseball wasn’t in the cards.
“Once I had the surgery, obviously doctors (said) no one’s ever played with a knee replacement. Obviously, the fear of it, if it breaks, the rest of my life will be severely impacted by it.”
What made it even more difficult was Pedroia believed he still could contribute. He was a five-win player in 2016 and believes he had learned how to play the game at an older age. Yet, it just wasn’t going to happen.
“When the cards are stacked against you, I tried — we all tried — everything possible to be able to continue to play, and I’m proud of that,” Pedroia said. “I’m proud of the way the trainers helped me, my doctors, everybody. But it wasn’t physically possible for me to continue to play baseball with a partial knee replacement. Once I got that done, I knew, and the team has been great at leading me in the right direction on things to do and be better in my everyday life.”
Ultimately, that’s what ended up being most important to Pedroia.
“I’m only 37 years old and have a long way to go.”