FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox executives commissioned a marketing survey after the 2010 season to determine how best to sell the team to the public.
According to the book by former Sox manager Terry Francona, the $100,000 study determined that the team needed more “sexy” players like Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia, who is short, pale, and balding, was asked Tuesday what he thought of those revelations. The question was a fastball down the middle for the quick-witted second baseman.
“They didn’t need to hire a damn marketing team. I could have told them that for free,” Pedroia said. “I just started laughing. That’s pretty funny.”
That Pedroia was laughing again was a sign of how much has changed for the Red Sox after the drudgery of last season. He had never played for a team with a losing record before (“not even Little League”), and finishing in last place in the American League East was personally embarrassing to him.
That the Sox finished 69-93 and a whopping 26 games out of first place was hard to accept even with all the injuries and turmoil that marked the season.
“It’s tough when you go out there trying to compete and you never win,” Pedroia said.
Pedroia said it “took a while” to get over the season once he returned home to Arizona with his wife and two sons.
“I think everybody is motivated to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Pedroia said. “We’ve got to do everything better than we did last year. There was a lot of frustration. It’s not fun coming to the field when you’re not winning every day.
“You think about some things. You’ve just got to try and turn the page and get after it.”
The Red Sox won the World Series in Pedroia’s first full season in 2007 and went to the ALCS the following year. They have not won a playoff game since.
“Thought it was easy, man,” he said. “You expect that to happen every year. I still do. I still feel that. I’ll never change.
“Our goal is to win the World Series every year. If we come into camp and that’s not the goal . . . I know everybody thinks that’s not our goal right now, but it is.”
Unlike some players, including David Ortiz, Pedroia declined to blame former manager Bobby Valentine for the problems of last season.
“He didn’t play,” Pedroia said. “It’s the players. Bobby didn’t go out there and get any hits or make any errors or do any of that. We lost those games, it’s on us.”
But Pedroia is clearly pleased with the decision to hire John Farrell, the pitching coach under Francona for four years and an adherent to the way things used to be done with the Sox.
Pedroia and Farrell long have had a good relationship.
“John’s awesome,” said Pedroia. “Everybody got to know him when he was here before. He’s easy to talk to. Obviously, when he walks in the room, he has that presence that he brings. It’s going to be great for us.”
Spring training, as usual, means getting used to another shortstop for Pedroia. This year it will be Stephen Drew, who was signed to a one-year deal. Drew will be the third shortstop Pedroia has played with in three seasons.
“I’m excited,” said Pedroia. “It’s going to be fun. He’s a great player and I’m looking forward to getting out there with him. He’ll be fine. He’s a great player with a lot of talent.”
Drew is one of seven free agents the Red Sox signed. General manager Ben Cherington also traded for closer Joel Hanrahan.
Several of the moves — particularly the acquisitions of outfielders Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino — were designed with the idea of improving the approach of the team. There were times last year when Pedroia seemed like one of the few players interested in the game that night.
“I thought the moves were great,” said Pedroia. “We added a lot of personality to the team. There’s guys that are going to bring a lot of energy to the clubhouse, to the team, a lot of positive stuff.”
Across the room, 22-year-old Deven Marrero watched as Pedroia took questions. Marrero is a first-time participant in major league spring training, having been drafted in the first round last June. Like Pedroia, he attended Arizona State.
“He’s the guy I want to learn from,” Marrero said. “At school, he’s held up as an example of what you can do and it seems like it’s the same thing here. I’m not going to say much, I just want to see what he does and maybe pick his brain when I can.”
The Red Sox will not name a captain this season. But Pedroia has that role, title or not. There is a new manager and a rebuilt roster. But he was one part of the past that was worth keeping. Owner John Henry said Monday that it was hard for him to envision the Red Sox without Pedroia.
“I just want to win,” Pedroia said. “We haven’t been winning and we need to get back to that. I’m for whatever makes that happen.”