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Pedroia clearly building a career for future

Former Sox pitcher Roger Clemens holds up a sign reading “Who Needs Manny’’ at Fenway. Former Sox pitcher Roger Clemens holds up a sign reading “Who Needs Manny’’ at Fenway. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)
By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 19, 2010

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Sometimes it’s hard to tell when Dustin Pedroia is telling the truth. Such as when he talks about his post-baseball career.

Faced with the revelation by close friend and Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier that Pedroia seems to be preparing for a bodybuilding career, Pedroia laughed yesterday and said, “There’s a good chance.’’ Then followed it with, “No.’’

But let Ethier tell the story: “His life goal after he’s done playing baseball is to be a bodybuilder. He always buys those muscle magazines. Every time I’ve gone on a trip with him in the offseason, whether it be to Vegas for a couple days or on a vacation, he’s always buying muscle magazines and staring at the guys, saying when he’s done he’s going to look like one of those guys on the magazines with veins and muscles popping out everywhere . . . I believe him.’’

Said Pedroia, “I do it just to mess with him. You’ve got to motivate him. I want to look like this guy, so the harder you work maybe one day you will. But there’s no chance of that happening.’’

Not that Pedroia needs to prepare for his retirement quite yet. But the story gives a good sense of what the relationship between the former Arizona State teammates is like. Ethier, in fact, arrived at Pedroia’s house Thursday night before Pedroia did, with the Dodgers flying to Boston after their day game in Cincinnati.

“We definitely challenge each other, but we’re not trying to one-up,’’ Ethier said. “It’s a friendly thing. If one person’s doing better than the other one in a certain category during the season, you’re definitely calling each other up and letting each other know.’’

And, yes, Pedroia made sure to let Ethier know that he hit a homer Wednesday in preparation for the series against the Dodgers this weekend.

“It’s something where you’ve got to appreciate his passion for whatever he undertakes, which is something definitely both me and him have in common,’’ Ethier said. “When the season’s done, when he’s at home, he’s still sleeping, eating, living baseball. Can’t wait to get back there on the field. He’s always thinking of what he can do to make himself better.

“I’ve learned a lot from that because I’m the type of person, it’s not necessarily opposite, but when it’s the offseason I like to relax a little bit, push it away. But at the same time, I realize you still have to practice your passion, something you love, keep getting better. He keeps dragging me out there. Probably gets me out there a couple weeks earlier than I’d like to be to start practicing, but it’s something that’s gotten me better.’’

Though, from the way Pedroia sees it, Ethier doesn’t need much help.

“He’s one of the best hitters in the game, but defensively he’s got a great arm, got good range,’’ Pedroia said. “He’s a really good player. He’s a good all-around player. A lot of people just notice him as an offensive guy, but he can do anything on a baseball field to help his team win.’’

Atchison is aces
With relievers Jonathan Papelbon, Ramon Ramirez, and Manny Delcarmen all unavailable last night, there wasn’t much margin for error. So it was that Scott Atchison walked to the mound with two on and no outs in the sixth inning, with the Dodgers having just cut the lead to five runs. Atchison struck out Garret Anderson and Jamey Carroll swinging, and got Matt Kemp on a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

“The way Atch pitched was exactly what we needed to win that game,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “He did a great job. I think that start the other day [filling in for Daisuke Matsuzaka] ended up being really good for him. He was able to get stretched out, use all his pitches, then he had some down time, and he threw the ball — his ball was as crisp as we’ve seen.’’

To that sixth inning, Atchison added two more, striking out a career-high five batters in his three innings of perfect relief.

Atchison had gotten a reprieve earlier in the day. The reliever has spent the season on the Pawtucket express, the good-news, bad-news of having an option. But, instead of sending down Atchison or Dustin Richardson yesterday, the Sox chose to designate Boof Bonser for assignment.

“I understand I have an option,’’ Atchison said. “I understand that that’s the situation. Sometimes it happens. That’s part of the business. So hopefully I can go out and perform and give everything I’ve got. Then hopefully when it is decision time, they’re like, ‘We’ve got to have this guy, we can’t send this guy down.’ That’s just kind of the approach I’m taking.’’

Simulated Daisuke
Matsuzaka bounced back well from his bullpen session Thursday, putting him in line for a simulated game today. If everything goes well there, Matsuzaka is likely to return to the mound Thursday against the Rockies . . . Josh Beckett will play long toss again today, with the plan for him to make 10 throws off the mound afterward. Francona called that “a really good sign, just starting on that angle again, downhill angle.’’ That means Beckett is closer to throwing a bullpen session, though that has not been scheduled . . . Jeremy Hermida continues to make progress in his recovery from five fractured ribs . . . Daniel Nava’s brother and sister surprised him by flying to Boston and arriving at the ballpark before the game. Nava hadn’t seen his sister since January, and was worried that with the late arrival he wouldn’t be able to find them tickets . . . David Ortiz’s 15 home runs through 56 games are his second-most through that many games in any season. He had 17 in 56 games in 2006 . . . The Sox have had 10 or more hits in seven of their last eight games.

Class act
Francona clearly was disappointed by the outcome of Thursday night’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals, though he made sure to contact Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “Different feeling as a fan than our games,’’ Francona said. “When we get disappointed in our games you try to get over it as quickly as you can because you need to for the next day. But when you’re watching it as a fan, it hurts. I really wanted them to win. Doc always reaches out to me more in difficult times. That’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about him.’’

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