In the Monday press conference following his decision to retire from playing, Dustin Pedroia — as he had done throughout his baseball career — gave it his all.
Speaking with obvious emotion, the 37-year-old discussed what it meant to have played for the Red Sox for so many years.
“The Boston Red Sox,” said Pedroia, “I can’t even explain how much it means to me. It means everything.”
“The Boston Red Sox to me is…I can’t even explain how much it means to me. It means everything.”
— NESN (@NESN) February 1, 2021
“I started my family there. My kids were born in Boston,” Pedroia explained. “Every day I woke up looking to find a way to help our team win a baseball game. And I got to do it in front of the best fans in the best city.”
“I wish I enjoyed it a little more at the time,” Pedroia acknowledged, “because my mind was so focused on the task at hand that day, and to try to win, to try to be the best, and make everyone around me be the best. But I don’t have any regrets of anything. I never took one play off, from little league on. So that part means a lot.”
Pedroia was asked about his decision-making process, and why he opted to retire after battling a knee injury for multiple years.
“Last January [in 2020], I was still working out, still trying to get ready to come back and play, and I woke up one morning and my knee was huge,” Pedroia recalled. “I went and saw the doctors, everything, and it looked like an explosion went off in there. I was told I needed to get a partial knee replacement.”
After a research process, Pedroia readied himself for surgery. Then, the coronavirus pandemic put everything on hold. Pedroia spent the year, as he explained, fighting to do even simple tasks.
“I’m glad none of you guys got a chance to see me,” Pedroia told reporters. “I wasn’t in a good place. I grinded every day just to be able to play with my kids and live a normal life. My knee was bad, and I’m a young guy.”
It wasn’t until December that he was able to finally have the procedure to partially replace his knee.
“I had the surgery, and a week later I could tell that I could walk without pain, I could basically do everything now except run,” said Pedroia. “I can’t run anymore, which is fine, I don’t need to run.”
Yet despite his recovery in an everyday sense, the longtime infielder knew his baseball playing career was over.
“Once I had the surgery, obviously no one has ever played with a partial knee replacement,” Pedroia noted. “The fear of it [breaking] and the rest of my life would be severely impacted by it.”
Having tried so hard to get back on the field, Pedroia knew he could not safely continue to push for a comeback.
“It wasn’t physically possible for me to continue to play baseball with a partial knee replacement,” said Pedroia. “Once I got that done, I knew. The team has been great at leading me in the right direction at things to do, and how to get better, and how to be better for my everyday life because I’m only 37 years old, and I have a long way to go.”
One of Pedroia’s leading motivations in retirement is to be more active in the lives of his children.
“My children and my wife have been through a lot,” Pedroia said. “They’ve seen me through six surgeries. They’ve seen me through a lot, and I was having a tough time up until my middle son, Cole — they wanted me to coach his baseball team. And I think that got me through the next step of understanding, hey, there’s something else I’m going to be able to do. And I’m good at it.
“I think they were happy that they get their dad to be home all the time,” Pedroia added of his children. “They need me, so it was hard but I just don’t want them seeing me have more surgeries and not being able to walk or get my oldest son’s rebounds, and stuff like that. Now it’s good. I’m in a good place. I can move. I can get a rebound now and just pass it to him and stand there without hurting. I don’t have to ice my knee all day long to make it not look like a basketball.”
Asked about his future, Pedroia expressed a desire to remain with the Red Sox — a notion which team president Sam Kennedy also mentioned — but offered nothing specific. His primary goal, at least for the moment, is to focus on his family.
“Honestly, I’m worried about my middle son’s flag football practice at 4:00,” Pedroia joked when asked about his post-playing plans. “Obviously I’ll be in the game somehow. I’m always going to be around. I’m always here for everybody in the Red Sox organization.
“I definitely want to be involved, but I don’t know what capacity yet,” Pedroia continued. “But I think when all my boys are out of the house, that’s when things will change to more of a greater role with the organization. Just right now I want to enjoy being a dad and having fun with my boys, and just being here.”
In response to a follow-up question, Pedroia noted that while he might be tempted by a specific job offer, the total commitment he would demand in a baseball role might be a deterrent given his current family-based priorities.
“I’m open to anything, but I want to make sure that my kids have the same upbringing that I had when I was a kid,” said Pedroia. “Coaching or managing, that’s a lot of time, and I’ve played a long time. I was the first one on the field every single day. I want to make sure that these years for my kids are the most important in every single way. I don’t want to miss a thing in their lives. They deserve that.”
Get Boston.com's browser alerts:
Enable breaking news notifications straight to your internet browser.