Dustin Pedroia's playing days are over, but his days inspiring the Boston Red Sox are not.
The 37-year-old second baseman, who retired Feb. 1, made a virtual cameo Monday at the Red Sox' annual team meeting in Fort Myers, Fla., addressing the squad in a video message.
Manager Alex Cora also spoke at the meeting and told reporters he'd prefer to keep his comments private, but the Red Sox' Twitter account shared brief clips of Cora and Pedroia's speeches.
"Everything should be important to you," Pedroia told his former teammates. "You should be the best at whatever job that you want to do. That's the mindset. And you guys do that for the guy next to you. That's what team sports is about at any level. It's not about how you feel. It's about how you act. And you want to act like a champion.
"This game doesn't last forever, guys. You've got to take pride in everything. ... Good luck. Trust me, I'll be watching every pitch."
That's a fitting message from Pedroia, an undersized second baseman who thrived in part due to his incredible work ethic, oversized confidence and dedication to improving his game. A knee injury hastened the end of Pedroia's career, so his message about not taking the game for granted should resonate with these Red Sox.
Cora said Monday he believes Pedroia's speech made an impact on his team.
"It was obviously good timing for him to talk to them,” Cora said in a video conference, via MassLive.com. “He is who he is. He’s going to be part of this organization for the rest of his life. For how great it was for us, I know it was good for him, which is very important to me. I’m glad that he was available and he was part of it."
Former Red Sox greats like David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez and even Jason Varitek have joined Boston's staff in consulting or coaching roles since retiring, and Pedroia likely will have a similar option if he so chooses.