Red Sox

Pedroia, healing well, says he could have handled 2017 differently

Pedroia, healing well, says he could have handled 2017 differently

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Often, Dustin Pedroia is not one to expound on his feelings publicly. His interviews with media can be amusing and witty, but they also can be terse. In 2017, they tended toward the latter. 

A welcome-to-spring session with reporters on Saturday brought out 20 minutes of another side of Pedroia, one that seemed almost eager to expound. He was cast in a poor light last season, the year's troubles started to compound early.

Pedroia said Saturday the knee he had repaired in the offseason had been bothering him since April. He called the surgery “the best decision I could have made.” 

“My knee doesn’t hurt,” Pedroia said. “Last year, waking up and walking around was painful. It’s not fun to live your life like that. Having the surgery, I could tell immediately that I was feeling better. Not one time did I have any pain in the entire process. Now, it’s just building strength and getting back to being athletic and things like that and your body picks that up quick.”

Pedroia, 34, didn’t share a timetable. The initial expectation, at the point Pedroia went for the surgery, was that he would be out until at least May.

He shared how he thinks the Red Sox need greater leadership as a group, not just from one individual.

"I’ve thought a lot about this, you know and I’m thinking, man, you know, you guys write all these stories about how we don’t have enough leadership and all this stuff,” Pedroia said. “I’m like, thinking about it, I’m like, when did the Red Sox start getting successful? From 2002 or whatever on. You know, they had Tek [Jason Varitek]. But not only did they have Tek, but they had David [Ortiz], they had Trot Nixon, they had Johnny Damon. There was a ton of core players that were leaders. 

“And then you look at the next championship they won, they had David, Tek, Mike Lowell, Alex [Cora]. There’s multiple leaders. And then ’13, there’s multiple leaders. So I think our core group, our guys that [are young], it’s my responsibility, I need them and they need me and we all have to work together. Because it’s not one leader. And everybody always says that, it’s not one guy in baseball. 

“We have to go be together and know that. I know David’s gone, but you know when Tek was done, we were okay. Because he built that into David, and David’s built that into me to where I got to do a better job of finding a way to get everybody to realize that it’s not one guy, it’s everybody. And that’s — after thinking about it — that’s what it is."

There was more. A lot more. The team, Pedroia said, became too results-oriented in the short term last year.

“It was more ‘Hey, what are our results today? We’ve got to do good today,’” Pedroia said. “‘Bogey’s got to get four hits today. Mookie’s got to live up to huge expectations,’ instead of being who you are, and that’s especially in this environment that’s how you have to be. You have to understand you’re going to be bad and you’re going to be great.”

Twenty minutes in, the second-to-last question was a brief return to last year’s form. Terse.

Pedroia was asked whether there was a team discussion about the handling of the Manny Machado and Dennis Eckersley incidents.

"Yeah, we talked about those things,” Pedroia said, matter of factly. 

It was by far the shortest answer he gave Saturday and stood out for that reason.

Pedroia and everyone else listening knew well that the question, which he did technically answer, was meant to provide some level of insight into those discussions. 

The conclusion: last year still isn’t easy to talk about. Which may be a positive sign. Consider: Pedroia’s reputation as a team leader was questioned. A prideful person who believes in his work, who cares about his standing and his reputation, would be made uncomfortable by last year’s proceedings.

A follow-up question came, and it was something of a breakpoint. Did those discussions resolve the issues quickly, was anything lingering?

He could have given a similar yes-no answer again. 

He didn’t.

“Yeah, no, I mean, I think as a team, no, we were together all the time. You know, those things happen,” Pedroia said. “I mean it’s baseball. I think when you sit back and look at it. Could it have been handled differently? Without question. I mean, 100 percent. It’s like everything in life. You make mistakes and then you don’t make mistakes. So, you know you learn from it, you move forward, you understand if you’re in another situation like that, if you want to do something different, do something different. And that’s what we all took out of it.”

On Saturday, he did something different.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Rodriguez reportedly out, Eovald in Red Sox playoff rotation

Rodriguez reportedly out, Eovald in Red Sox playoff rotation

Eduardo Rodriguez shaky outing against the Yankees in the Red Sox' American League East-clinching victory over the Yankees - and Nathan Eovaldi's success against New York - has led to Alex Cora going with Eovaldi over E-Rod as a playoff starter, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Eovaldi (2-3, with a 3.64 ERA since joining the Red Sox) allowed two hits in six innings at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, his second strong start against Boston's rivals. Rodriguez (12-4, 3.79 ERA) couldn’t get through four innings Thursday against the Yankees. He walked seven, gave up five runs and has a 5.79 ERA and 1.554 WHIP in four starts since coming off the DL Sept. 1. 

Rosenthal mentioned that E-Rod's pace and body language were concerns. He said Eovaldi will open the best-of-five A.L. Division Series in the bullpen, then be available to start Game 4, if necessary, in Oakland or New York. 

The Yankees and A's will play in the wild-card game Oct. 2, with the winner playing the Red Sox in the best-of-five Division Series.

In talking to reporters Friday night in Cleveland, it sounded as if Cora had his rotation and bullpen figured out. Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello are likely the top three starters. 

“We saw what happened this week. We have a pretty good idea who matches well with the Yankees," Cora said, adding that the Red Sox staff and scouts have to also concentrate on preparing for the A's, a team Boston hasn't played since May 16 after going 2-4 in the season series.

“It’s wide open for you guys," Cora said of his bullpen choices. "I have a pretty good idea of where we’re going.” 

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Highlights of the Red Sox' 7-5 win over Indians

Highlights of the Red Sox' 7-5 win over Indians

FINAL SCORE: Red Sox 7, Indians 5

IN BRIEF: Sam Travis and Tzu-Wei Lin hit their first major league home runs and the Boston Red Sox tied a team record more than a century old with their 105th win, beating the Cleveland Indians 7-5 Friday night.

RED SOX RECORD: 105-49

WHERE THEY STAND: A third straight AL East title wrapped up, the Red Sox turn their sights to home field advantage for the playoffs. They currently hold an 8.5-game lead over the Astros for that honor.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

NIGHT OF FIRSTS FOR BOSTON

AND OF COURSE . . . #SALEDAY

WHAT'S NEXT:

SATURDAY: Red Sox (Rick Porcello, 17-7, 4.30 ERA) at Indians (Shay Clevinger, 12-8, 3.06 ERA), 7:10 p.m.

SUNDAY: Red Sox (pitcher TBA) at Indians (Adam Plutko, 4-5, 5.27 ERA), 7 p.m.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE