BOSTON — It's not on them. It's on him.
Dustin Pedroia’s pre-game media session Friday was an inauguration speech for positions he never really wanted: Defuser. Spokesman.
He needs to embrace those now, for the good of his teammates and a clubhouse he has declared his. He seems on his way.
Let’s get one caveat out of the way before we explore the second baseman’s soapbox: little else matters if the Red Sox don’t start hitting.
Their lack of power is sapping the enjoyment out of watching games and has to be draining to their pitchers, who are being hung out to dry near daily. It’s the looped soundtrack of a slow slide into second place, or worse.
But let’s assume, though, the Sox will start to hit like something other than a stereotypical last-place team in the National League West. It’s still worth playing a game of, "Whose Clubhouse Is this Any Way?"
Pedroia has long been a leader by example. The mettle he showed Friday was different, more forward-facing. He set the record straight and declared himself the point man.
Pedroia recently acquired the corner locker at the far side of the home clubhouse, the one Pablo Sandoval used to occupy. The media gathered there for the first significant comments from anyone on the club about the David Price-Dennis Eckersley airplane fiesta.
“We’re moving past this,” Pedroia said. “This was a month ago. We all love each other. We’re in here together. Nothing is going to divide this team. For whatever people say from the outside: ‘We don’t have a leader.’ I’m standing right here. I’ve been here for a long time.”
“We’re in first place. That’s it. Write what you guys want. Here I am. See anybody else standing here doing this? Do you? Nope. That’s a fact. There’s your source. From the mouth.”
Better late than never.
When he referred to himself as a “source,” Pedroia was seemingly making a reference to the sourced reports from this week that he was clapping when Eckersley was verbally attacked by Price.
That’s fishy, considering as Pedroia himself noted, it’s been about a month since the incident. But the fact that Pedroia did address the matter with the player and the public as well is net-positive progress.
Pedroia’s always been a spunky, sarcastic character. He can come off as something of a jerk, too. He has bravado. But he doesn’t have the programming that naturally makes him want to be the go-to-guy to answer questions.
Perhaps this episode showed Pedroia the problem that arises when that role is left ambiguous. A controversy can grow like a wildfire in this media and fan environment if explanations aren't given. He’s seen those dust-ups before, playing here for a decade. But he’s rarely had to bat them down.
Pedroia's stand-up attitude Friday was a reminder of what had not done previously this season, and what needs to continue.
Someone needs to set the record straight on what’s going on, even if behind the scenes, the clubhouse is in good order without others knowing — even if Pedroia doesn't think something's worth addressing.
The distraction created by something that morphs and evolves in the public without proper information probably isn’t worth it.
“Is there usually this many of you guys in here? Come on,” Pedroia said when asked about the distraction of the Eckersely-Price confab. “We want to focus on our job and winning baseball games. That’s what we’re here to try to do. I wish you guys were asking me how we’re going to try to beat the Royals [Friday] instead of talking about this. I enjoy talking about that more, obviously.”
More often, now, Pedroia has to take on the unenjoyable. He’ll make his clubhouse better for it.