Red Sox

It's time to admit the obvious - Dustin Pedroia looks like he's finished

It's time to admit the obvious - Dustin Pedroia looks like he's finished

NEW YORK -- The reeling Red Sox lost in horrible fashion again on Wednesday, Ryan Brasier surrendering a go-ahead grand slam to Brett Gardner in a 5-3 loss that leaves them a staggering 8.5 games behind the Rays in the AL East.

But let us take a break from our nightly bash-fest to focus on the inevitable, melancholy turn the game took in the second inning and what it means in the big picture for one of the most storied figures of our post-2004 renaissance.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia flied out to right to drop his average to .100 and then did not take the field. The Red Sox removed him because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, puncturing the myth perhaps once and for all that he will be a meaningful contributor this season. If ever.

After appearing in just three games last season, Pedroia lasted six this time around, and though no one's closing the door on his return, it's time to face reality.

The surgery didn't work. Pedroia's career might effectively be over.

Given the fearlessness with which he played in his heyday and the serious injuries he overcame -- including dings and dents to his hands and wrists, the lifeblood of any hitter -- it's amazing he lasted as long as he did.

From Rookie of the Year to MVP to World Series champion, all within two years, Pedroia, who turns 36 in August, is destined to occupy a space near Nomar Garciaparra in franchise lore as the superstar whose flame burned at an intensity his body simply could not endure.

A three-time All-Star, an MVP and a Gold Glover by age 26, Pedroia has made just one All-Star team in the eight years since, a streak that will soon reach nine. He gutted through a thumb injury to lead the American League in plate appearances in the world championship 2013 campaign, and three years later he delivered his last great season, hitting .318 and scoring 105 runs before undergoing offseason knee surgery.

The Red Sox seemed willfully blind to his limitations this winter in ways that even Pedroia himself was not, unrealistically banking on him to play 125 or 130 games when it was clear to anyone with two eyes that Pedroia's cartilage restoration procedure had left him diminished.

It's certainly not Pedroia's fault that the front office chose not to sign a backup second baseman, counting instead on the duo of Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez. But with Holt (scratched cornea) on the injured list and the perpetually creaky Nunez hitting just .159 while battling a sore back, second base suddenly resembles that grainy orange image of a black hole NASA just released.

The Red Sox should've been able to see this coming, given the experimental nature of Pedroia's surgery, the fact that it limited him to three games last year, and the similar struggle to stay healthy befalling knuckleballer Steven Wright, who also underwent the procedure.

But they didn't, and so here we were, watching Pedroia shuttle between DH and the field, unable to play his position with any regularity. His exit from a game under circumstances exactly like Wednesday's was coming sooner rather than later, and everyone knew it, including deep down I'm sure, Pedroia.

And so, he will undoubtedly do everything in his power to return yet again, it's not too soon to start viewing him like Pedro Martinez or David Ortiz, Red Sox greats whose careers reside in the past tense.

While some will argue Pedroia never should've been offered an eight-year contract through 2021, given his size and injury history, it's not like he didn't earn every penny of his relatively modest (these things are relative) $110 million extension.

He took some heat for signing that deal in the middle of the 2013 season, because it was considered below market for an All-Star in his prime. But Pedroia had a ready-made retort anytime anyone broached the subject.

"Are you kidding me?" he once told me. "I'm rich as f---."

Those of us who got to watch the Laser Show in his prime every day from 2007-2013 considered it a privilege. Watching him leave the game on Wednesday with a grimace is no way for his career to end, but if we're being honest with ourselves, it's hard to envision a Red Sox future that includes him.

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Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers admits he still experiences anxiety before games

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers admits he still experiences anxiety before games

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers doesn't always have the easiest time preparing for games. 

After a breakout season in 2019 (.311, 32 homers, 115 RBI, .916 OPS), the 23-year-old has turned into one of Boston's best at the plate, but that doesn't mean he doesn't experience anxiety. 

The Boston Herald's Jason Mastrodonato sat down with Devers for an interview before the MLB postponed its season due to the coronavirus, and Devers indicated that he still feels a rush before games begin.

“The hardest thing I still go through is every game I still get this anxiousness of the game starting," Devers said, according to Mastrodonato. "It’s this happiness of being out there and being on the field and playing and getting over that anxiety. I’m just over-emotional about the opportunity and being out there playing.

“Because it’s not like a nervous thing, it’s more of an excited thing. That first inning is a big rush. But after that first inning settles, I get an at-bat and it’s like, alright, the game kind of settles. It’s just me being overly emotional about how happy I am.”

“It’s something I’ve been working on since I’ve been here. I’ve been working with previous people in the organization that led me to some of my breathing techniques that I do now. But it’s all about controlling myself. I know it. It’s still there and I’m still working on it. But I have gotten much better at it.”

Of course, you can tell that Devers can't wait to take the field -- he lights up like a kid on Christmas -- but you'd never know truly how emotional he gets. 

In three seasons with the Red Sox, Devers has hit .282 with 211 RBI, 63 home runs and a 5.8 WAR. Based on his 2019 stats, those pregame jitters must've been a little easier to deal with last season. 

Whatever's in store for the Red Sox in 2020, and whenever the baseball season begins, we should expect some big things from Devers in his fourth season.

Why was Red Sox great Bill Buckner trending on Twitter Friday night?

Why was Red Sox great Bill Buckner trending on Twitter Friday night?

R.I.P. Bill Buckner. Ten months later.

Why was the former Red Sox first baseman, who died on May 27, 2019, trending on Twitter Friday night?

It can apparently be traced to New York Times political writer Maggie Haberman on Friday afternoon tweeting a link to Buckner's obit from ESPN.com from the day he died of complications from Lewy body dementia at 69.

Haberman has 1.2 million Twitter followers and it appears some of them thought this was new news.

Former Boston Globe columnist and current MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle tweeted a Buckner tribute a few hours after Haberman's tweet. 

R.I.P Bill Bucker tweets followed well into Friday night, along with plenty informing the tweeter that Buckner had passed away months earlier. 

Haberman appeared to acknowledge her odd timing in a follow-up tweet.

No matter. As Barnicle points out, Buckner ought not to be remembered for the error that was the first line in his obit, but as a terrific hitter (2,715 hits, .289 career batting average, National League-leading .324 in 1980) in a 22-year major league career with five teams (Dodgers, Cubs, two stints with the Red Sox, Angels and Royals). 

And really, anytime is a good time to look back at that.