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Tomase: Pedroia's perspective on Machado slide that changed his career

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There are two words Dustin Pedroia never uttered during his retirement Zoom call with reporters: Manny Machado.

San Diego's $300 million man was merely an All-Star infielder with the Baltimore Orioles when he slid high into Pedroia in April of 2017, unleashing a cascading series of maladies that led to the end of Pedroia's All-Star career and his tearful farewell Monday.

Given that Pedroia just underwent a partial knee replacement in December that guarantees he'll never run again, and given that his career is over at an age (37) when he could've been burnishing his Hall of Fame credentials, it's only reasonable to ask -- is he at peace with the play that upended his life?

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"I'm not upset about anything anymore," Pedroia said. "That play could've happened my rookie year. When you play second base and you play second like me, you hang on until the last possible second to get the ball because, you watched it: if there's a slim chance at a double play, there's one guy on planet earth who could turn it. And you're talking to him."

Pedroia's characteristic bravado aside, there's little question that a different slide at that moment would've left Pedroia better equipped to continue his All-Star career. But with Pedroia's leg planted awkwardly on the bag, Machado's spike to the back of his knee left him with damage that would prove life-altering.

One thing it didn't do was ruin his 2017 season. Despite being in constant pain and requiring immediate offseason surgery, Pedroia gutted out 105 games and hit .293.


"Your mind takes over," he said. "That was some of the worst pain. Day in and day out, it was tough. I played in 2013, I tore my UCL in my thumb on Opening Day and I played the whole year that year, and that was like a massage compared to this one. I don't know how I did that. I just know that our trainers, our doctors, my teammates, they're pretty powerful people who can push you to do something. And I had to be out there for them. That's how I looked at it: 50 percent of me can find a way to help us win a game.

"It's funny, I remember when I got the first MRI after that play, a doctor said, 'Hey man, you could ruin not only your career but the rest of your life with this injury. You tore all the cartilage off on your medial compartment on your femur and your tibia. Your cleat just got stuck, and it's a bad deal.

"And I said, 'Well, can I play.' And he said, 'Yeah, you could try to. It's going to go. When it goes, you'll know.' So I just remember everyone there saying, 'Hey, we need you.' It was a no-brainer. If I had to do it all over again, it wouldn't even be a question. Of course I would."

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The example Pedroia set that year for a young roster that included Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi carried over to 2018, when he appeared in only three games but still was proud to watch the Red Sox romp to the third World Series championship of his career.

Now that's it over? Pedroia is moving on, and Machado isn't worth mentioning by name.

"It happened," Pedroia said. "Unfortunately, I just got caught in the wrong position and that was it. But I think I'm at peace with everything knowing that I did my best and the training staff and the doctors did everything we possibly could've to try to continue to play baseball.

"And we made it back. I played nine games when 90 percent of the doctors said there's zero chance you could play. I'm proud of that. The way it ended, it ended that way, and that's OK. I just hope I did enough during the time I had to play to impact everyone. That's the only thing I care about."