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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Joe Kelly admits Mookie Betts' speech to Dodgers was 'cringey' at times

Joe Kelly admits Mookie Betts' speech to Dodgers was 'cringey' at times

You've probably heard about Mookie Betts' speech by now.

Shortly after the Boston Red Sox traded Betts to Los Angeles, the publicly soft-spoken outfielder stood up in the Dodgers' clubhouse and "essentially call(ed) everyone out," according to third baseman Justin Turner.

By all accounts, the content of Betts' speech was well-received. But Dodgers relief pitcher Joe Kelly -- who was teammates with Betts in Boston before joining L.A. in 2019 -- offered some interesting insight on his delivery.

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"Me and DP (David Price) were looking at each other like -- it was good," Kelly told WEEI's Rob Bradford on "The Bradfo Show" podcast. "It was meant to go the right way, honestly. He's not very -- I don't know how to put it. He speaks well, but then when he has to plan something and speak in front of people he wasn’t too comfortable with, I think he was getting ahead of himself.

"The meaning behind what he was saying was very I think spot on, but I think the way he was saying it was kind of tough."

Betts never was a vocal leader in Boston -- he didn't need to be with David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia in the clubhouse -- and Kelly suggested that showed in the 27-year-old's speech, which perhaps was a little blunt for some.

"It was very well accepted. If he would have said it a little bit nicer or articulated it a little bit better, it would have come off stronger," Kelly said.

"It was kind of, once in a while, cringey. But then we all knew that his meaning behind it was accurate."

Cringey in what way, you ask?

"Some people need to have their hand held the whole time and some people need the, 'eff you;' some people need the, 'You are so good, just believe in yourself' kind of statement," Kelly explained. "And Mookie went the direct path, the direct route in front of 40 people."

Kelly reiterated that Betts got his point across loud and clear: That the Dodgers are the most talented team in baseball and shouldn't squander that talent.

The former American League MVP still is finding his footing as a leader, though, and according to Kelly, that manifested itself on one of his first days as a Dodger.

Report: MLB doesn't want notes from Red Sox investigation used in court

Report: MLB doesn't want notes from Red Sox investigation used in court

As we await Major League Baseball's report on the Red Sox alleged sign-stealing from their 2018 championship season, MLB revealed in court documents that it does not want the notes from its interviews with Red Sox and Houston Astros personnel used in a current trial involving those allegations.

MLB investigator Bryan Seeley argued in a court filing this week that future investigations could be jeopardized if the league reveals details of those interviews, Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports. MLB is being sued by daily fantasy game contestants who argue that the Red Sox' and Astros' schemes corrupted the games.

A decision on the case is expected by April 15. MLB has already disciplined the Astros and it led to the firing of their manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The Red Sox parted ways with manager Alex Cora for what ownership said was his role in the Astros transgressions.  

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred gave Astros players who cooperated with MLB investigators immunity from his discipline. It's uncertain if the same holds true for Red Sox players. Manfred said last week a report on the Red Sox allegations - delayed by the coronavirus outbreak - would be released before the now-delayed baseball season begins.