FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia won’t report to spring training with the rest of the Red Sox position players next week, manager Ron Roenicke said Thursday in somewhat of a eulogy for the former MVP’s career.
“He’s a special player,” Roenicke said after confirming what had been suspected since it was reported that Pedroia had a setback in his latest attempt to rehab his left knee. “All the things you like from a player, he’s got.”
A four-time All-Star who was the AL rookie of the year in 2007 and the AL MVP in his second season, Pedroia has played in just nine games the last two seasons while trying to recover from the injury he sustained when Baltimore’s Manny Machado slid spikes-high into his knee in May 2017.
For the third straight spring, the team was hoping Pedroia could return to the lineup. For the third straight spring, those plans have been thwarted. Boston signed infielder José Peraza to a one-year deal in December, and Michael Chavis also plays second base.
The sad part, Roenicke said, was watching a career cut short because of injury.
“When a guy just ages and then he’s not as good, that part’s easy to see. But not a guy who has an injury and because of it has not been able to perform,” Roenicke said. “That part is really difficult.”
The longest-tenured player on the Red Sox roster, Pedroia was a key part of the team’s 2007 World Series championship and he helped win another in 2013. He had surgery after the 2017 season and admitted to rushing back the next year; he played in only three games in late May before going back on the disabled list, while the Red Sox earned a franchise-record 108 wins and another championship.
Despite vowing to be more cautious in his return the next year, Pedroia made it just six games before going back on the DL.
Then, this winter, there was what the team called a “significant setback.”
Roenicke, who was a Boston bench coach the past two seasons before taking over as interim manager for Alex Cora, said he enjoyed having Pedroia on the team — even if he barely got to see him play.
“Just having him around is huge,” Roenicke said. “The energy level that he brings — he is passionate about what he does in the game, and he’s feisty. He’s got a chip on his shoulder.”
If he is unable to return, Pedroia would finish as a career .299 hitter who had 140 homers and 725 RBIs. He is a four-time Gold Glove-winner who finished in the top 10 of the AL MVP voting three times. He has two years and $25 million remaining on his contract.
Facing him as a manager and coach for most of Pedroia’s career was never easy, Roenicke said.
“Watching the way he plays, the energy he brings to a team,” he said. “He’s a great player, too. But just doing things the right way, playing the great defense. Getting on base and slapping a ball to right field when he needs to, and driving a ball when he needs to.
“It was never comfortable on the other side having to face him, especially when, you know, the game’s on the line,” Roenicke said. “It’s just not comfortable.”