Red Sox’ Alex Cora leaning on Kiké Hernández, Marwin González for more than just their versatility

The Red Sox brought in Enrique Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez to provide versatility on the field and in the lineup. That much is true.

What is also true, however, is that the pair of veteran utilitymen were signed by Boston for their sage wisdom and leadership abilities as well.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has prior connections with both players. He’s known Hernandez since the former Dodgers fan favorite was a kid growing up in Puerto Rico and he served as Gonzalez’s bench coach with the Astros in 2017.

Given those connections, it’s safe to assume that Cora played a role in recruiting both Hernandez and Gonzalez, both of whom won World Series with their previous clubs, to Boston and ensured that the two would not only play key roles on the field, but off the field as well.

“There’s something about those guys and the experience of being with winners that they can add to the equation here,” Cora said Thursday. “As you know, my expectations are the same as the fanbase and it’s to play in October and win a championship. Guys like that, when they talk in the clubhouse and they talk baseball, it’s loud and clear.”

As Cora put it, Hernandez, 29, and Gonzalez, who turns 32 on Sunday, have the “green light” to speak up in the clubhouse in order to help those around them.

One way in which those two are already utilizing that green light is by talking with Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts about their defense.

“They connected with Raffy already,” said Cora. “You can see those two — Marwin and Enrique — talking to him a lot about defense. And it’s a tradeoff. The way they see it is like, ‘OK, we’ll help Xander and Raffy defensively, they’ll help us offensively. And we’ll be good.’ So, it’s a good tradeoff.”

For some veterans, being put in Hernandez’s and Gonzalez’s position would not be easy simply because of the fact they are new to an organization and are already being asked to undertake a vocal leadership role.

Despite that potential hurdle, Cora did not seem all that concerned that the two versatile infielders/outfielders would have any difficulty in familiarizing themselves with their new teammates.

“I told them straight up: We have a bunch of humble kids here,” the Sox skipper recounted. “Like I told you guys in ’18, I think the eye-opening thing about that team was the media during the playoffs was like, ‘They’re just such good kids and they’re such a good group.’ Like I told you guys, I wanted them to be cocky and go out there and do your thing in ’18. I had to push these guys to be something else, like if you hit a home run, enjoy it.

“It’s not the same group, but we still have two very good kids at shortstop and at third base,” he added. “I think these guys are going to push them to be leaders and push them to speak to the group. They know already, and they have the confidence of the manager — not only on the field, but off the field — and I think that means a lot. Whatever they have on their mind, they always come up to me and I tell them that’s a good way to put it or I tell them not to do it.

“They know they have my support in anything they want to do in the clubhouse.”

(Picture of Rafael Devers, Enrique Hernandez, Marwin Gonzalez, and Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. officially signs with Brewers

Former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. finally saw his free agency come to a close on Monday as his two-year, $24 million deal with the Brewers was made official.

The 30-year-old had been on the open market for a little more than four months, eventually reaching the point where he was the best position player still available by the time clubs reported for spring training in February.

A client of super-agent Scott Boras, Bradley Jr. never wavered while being in a situation others in his position might have considering the fact it was early March and he was still without a job.

Speaking with reporters via Zoom from Phoenix, Ariz. on Monday, the Gold Glover explained what led to him landing with Milwaukee after a long winter.

“This was an unprecedented offseason,” Bradley Jr. said. “This is my first free agency, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. I personally enjoyed it, because I focused on the things that were going on around me. I was able to spend a lot of quality time with my family and kind of let all that figure it out itself. I was just relaxing, and waiting for the opportunity. I was continuously staying ready, working hard.”

Coming off a successful 2020 season in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games while providing his usual superb defense in centerfield, the former first-round pick had multiple offers to consider, but he ultimately wound up signing a two-year pact with the Brewers that also includes an opt out after the first year.

“With the offer now, I just wanted to trust myself,” he added. “I believe in my ability and my talent and I feel like this particular deal offers me a lot of flexibility.”

Throughout the course of the offseason, Bradley Jr. seemingly had one definitive suitor in the form of his old club in Boston.

It never seemed all that likely that the two sides would come to terms on a new deal, but whenever he was asked, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom would say something along the lines of: ‘We love Jackie. We’re going to remain involved on that front until his free agency resolves.’

Bradley Jr.’s free agency ultimately resolved itself without the Sox getting overly involved, but the All-Star centerfielder did confirm that there were talks about a potential reuinion.

“I think, as a whole, you want to stay open-minded about it all,” he said when asked if there was a point this winter when he thought he might stay with the Red Sox. “Anytime you’re already closing off different avenues, then you’re limiting yourself. So I think as long as you’re pretty open-minded about listening and gathering all the information, that’s going to give you the best opportunity to make the decision that you feel is best for you and your family.”

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 next month, is slated to earn $13 million with the Brewers this season with the chance to earn an additional $11 million in 2022 if he declines to opt out of his deal.

That decision is a longways away, though, and the University of South Carolina product is just looking forward to familiarizing himself with his new organization for the time being. This is after all his first time reporting to a team whose spring training headquarters are not in Fort Myers.

And for what it’s worth, Bradley Jr. will wear the No. 41 for the Brewers. That number signifies the birth dates of himself, his wife Erin, his daughter Emerson, and his son Jackie III.

“It was a breath of fresh air,” Bradley Jr. said when describing what it was like to put on a Brewers uniform on for the first time. “To be able to finally be out here and moving around, I’m glad to be here. I’m really excited for the opportunity and I’m going to have a lot of fun with these guys.”

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Pitching prospect Zach Bryant joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by newest Red Sox right-handed pitching prospect Zach Bryant, who the club acquired from the Chicago Cubs last weekend.

Among the topics Zach and I discussed were how he grew up a Red Sox fan despite being born and raised in Florida, how weightlifting helped turn him into a legitimate prospect, how he works out with Orioles outfielder Austin Hays and Rockies first-round draft pick Zac Veen in the offseason, how Driveline Baseball has helped him improve, how he faced off against Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani while at the Driveline facility, what Red sox fans can expect out of him in 2021, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Zach for taking some time out of his busy schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here, and you can follow him on Instagram by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Zach Bryant: Aussiedi Photography)

Red Sox free agency: Jackie Bradley Jr. in agreement with Brewers on two-year deal, per report

In case you missed it, now-former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is reportedly in agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers on a two-year, $24 million contract, according to The Boston Globe’s Julain McWilliams.

Per McWilliams, Bradley Jr.’s deal with Milwaukee includes a player option after the first year.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal adds that Bradley Jr. will net $13 million in 2021 with the chance to earn an additional $11 million in 2022 if he decides to not opt out. Some of the money will also be deferred.

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 next month, was the top position player free-agent on the market leading up to Thursday morning’s news.

The former first-round pick spent the first eight seasons — and first 10 years of his professional career — with the Red Sox, most recently posting a .283/.364/.450 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games in 2020.

Despite putting up those impressive offensive numbers in addition to his usual superb defense in center field, it took a little while for Bradley Jr. to find a job this winter.

One reason behind that likely had to do with the fact that the Scott Boras client was reportedly seeking a “significant contract, perhaps beyond four years” as recently as February 3, according to The New York Post’s Mike Puma.

With the number of potential suitors dwindling down, the Brewers jumped in on the Bradley Jr. sweepstakes in late February and ultimately wound up acquiring his services with just weeks to go until Opening Day.

Last season, the Brewers outfielder ranked 25th in baseball in terms of Defensive Runs Saved (-11) and 17th in Ultimate Zone Rating (0.1), which translates to an Ultimate Zone Rating of -0.1 over 150 games.

Bradley Jr., who figures to slide into center while Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich patrol the corners, should help improve Milwaukee’s overall defensive numbers in 2021.

Now that his time with the Red Sox is likely over, here is a brief list of what the Virginia native accomplished in his time in Boston:

  • Two-time World Series champion (2013, 2018)
  • One-time American League Championship Series MVP (2018)
  • One-time All-Star (2016)
  • One-time Gold Glove Award winner (2018)

Assuming he does not return to the Sox anytime soon, Bradley Jr. will likely go down as one of, if not the best defensive centerfielder in franchise history. He will be missed and we wish him all the best with the Brewers.

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts dealing with shoulder soreness, Alex Cora says

Xander Bogaerts is “a little bit banged up” and dealing with some right shoulder soreness, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Monday.

The 28-year-old shortstop arrived to camp in Fort Myers on time a little more than a week ago, but had been shut down from throwing at one point on account of that aforementioned soreness.

That said, it sounds like he is starting to make some progress towards a full recovery.

As for the reason why Bogaerts has been hindered by a sore shoulder, that has something to do with the fact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affected his offseason workouts in his home country of Aruba.

“He rushed himself with his throwing program during the offseason,” Cora said of the star infielder. “With everything that is going on with the virus, there were a few things he wasn’t able to do in Aruba because of lockdowns or whatever they had going on down there for the right reasons. So it wasn’t a regular offseason on that end.”

Despite those limitations, Bogaerts was still able to hit, but he may have overdone things with his throwing program in order to make up for lost time.

“He was able to hit and all that, but his throwing program wasn’t perfect. So he rushed himself,” said Cora. “He was sore for a few days. We shut him down. He should be back to throwing in the next couple of days. He will take groundballs and all that. The hitting part, he’ll be okay in a few days.”

Although Cora did not reveal when Bogaerts would be fit enough to make his Grapefruit League debut this spring, he did not seem all that concerned that the two-time All-Star would miss the start of the 2021 season, which begins on April 1.

“We just got to be patient,” the Sox skipper stated. “We got plenty of days — 30 more days. As of now, we do feel that he should be ready for Opening Day.”

Additionally, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato that Bogaerts had an MRI on his sore shoulder, though said MRI revealed “nothing concerning.”

Bloom, like Cora, expects Bogaerts to be ready for Opening Day.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have some interest’ in free-agent reliever Ben Heller, per report

As pitchers and catchers report to their respective spring training camps this week, the Red Sox are reportedly interested in adding to their bullpen mix.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox “have some interest” in free-agent right-handed reliever Ben Heller.

Heller, 29, was released by the Yankees last week after initially being designated for assignment so that the club could make room on its 40-man roster for fellow reliever Darren O’Day.

In parts of four seasons (2016-17, 2019-20) with New York, the Wisconsin native posted a 2.59 ERA and 5.57 FIP over 31 total appearances and 31 1/3 innings of work.

The reason Heller did not pitch in 2018 was due to the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery that also involved the removal of a bone spur in his throwing elbow in April of that year.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-3, 210 lb. righty operates with a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup.

Originally selected by the Indians in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft out of Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), Heller is perhaps most notably known for being part of the trade that sent left-hander Andrew Miller to Cleveland and outfielder Clint Frazier and lefty Justus Sheffield, then top prospects, to New York in July 2016.

As noted by Cotillo, Heller should be a popular name on the free-agent market because not only has he put up decent numbers in the majors, but he’s also under team control for three more seasons and has one minor-league option remaining on his contract.

Taking those factors into consideration, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to think that Heller could net himself a major-league deal — or at the very least a potentially lucrative minor-league pact with an invite to big-league camp — at some point before Opening Day.

If the Red Sox were to sign Heller, or another available reliever, to a major-league contract, they would have to clear a 40-man roster spot for that individual since their 40-man is currently at full capacity.

That note does not take into account that utilityman Marwin Gonzalez still needs to be added to the 40-man as well since his signing has not yet been made official.

(Picture of Ben Heller: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Hirokazu Sawamura signing official, designate Jeffrey Springs for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura to a two-year contract that includes a dual club/player option for the 2023 season, the team announced Tuesday.

In order to make room for Sawamura on their 40-man roster, Boston also designated left-hander Jeffrey Springs for assignment.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Sawamura will earn $3 million over the next two seasons with the chance to earn a total of $7.65 million over the next three years if he “hits every performance bonus and escalator.”

Rosenthal also described Sawamura’s option as “conditional and complex,” and seeing how it is a dual club/player option, that would fit said description.

Expanding on that, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Sawamura will earn a base salary of $1.2 million in 2021 and a base salary of $1.2 million in 2022 that can escalate up to $1.7 million.

As for Sawamura’s dual option for 2023, Cotillo adds that if its a club option, it’s worth anywhere between $3 and $4 million depending on escalators. If the Red Sox decline that, the option then becomes a player option worth anywhere between $600,000 and $2.2 million depending on escalators.

For this year alone, Sawamura will count as a $1.2 million hit against Boston’s competitive balance tax threshold.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old hurler had been pitching in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization since 2011, mostly for the Yomiuri Giants.

This past season, Sawamura got off to a tough start with Yomiuri and was ultimately dealt to the Chiba Lotte Marines as part of a midseason trade between the clubs.

Once he arrived in Chiba City though, things turned around for the better for the Japanese-born righty.

Across 22 relief appearances spanning 21 total innings of work, Sawamura posted a dazzling 1.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP to go along with 29 strikeouts and just 10 walks.

Sawamura’s pitch arsenal consists of a 94-99 mph four-seam fastball, a swing-inducing splitter, and a below-average slider.

With his new club, Sawamura figures to slide into a late-inning role alongside the likes of Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

As for Springs, the 28-year-old southpaw was designated for assignment 13 months after the Red Sox acquired him from the Texas Rangers in exchange for infielder Sam Travis.

In his debut season with Boston, Springs produced a 7.08 ERA and 4.81 FIP over 16 relief outings and 20 1/3 innings of work in two stints with the club.

That being said, there was a stretch from August 31 through September 23 of last season in which the North Carolina native thoroughly impressed to the tune of a 2.53 ERA and 2.39 xFIP over nine appearances out of the Sox’ bullpen.

Considering the fact he still has three minor-league options remaining, it would not be all that surprising to see another team take a chance on Springs through waivers.

Having said that, the Red Sox will have seven days to either trade Springs, release him, or try to sneak him through waivers themselves.

On another note, Boston’s 40-man roster is back at full capacity, so there will be another move to make in order to accommodate the signing of Marwin Gonzalez, which should be made official in the coming days.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Sports Nippon/Getty Images)

Red Sox free agency updates: Hirokazu Sawamura, Marwin González signings could be made official soon

As spring training approaches, the Red Sox are reportedly close to making their signings of right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura and utilityman Marwin Gonzalez official.

Here are some notes on each of those players’ situations regarding their pending contracts with Boston.

Hirokazu Sawamura: According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Sawamura’s deal with the Red Sox is good for $3 million over two years with a “conditional and complex” option for a potential third year. The contract could also grow to $7.65 million over three years thanks to performance bonuses and escalators.

Sankei Sports of Japan originally reported last week that Sawamura had reached agreement on a two-year deal with Boston worth $2.4 million.

The 32-year-old righty (33 in April) has spent the entirety of his professional career, which dates back to 2011, pitching in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization.

Most recently, Sawamura split the 2020 season between the Yomiuri Giants and Chiba Lotte Marines. And while he was not particularly sharp with Yomiuri, the 6-foot, 212 lb. hurler turned things around for the better upon arriving in Chiba City via a midseason trade.

Over 22 appearances and 21 innings pitched out of the Marines bullpen, Sawamura dazzled by posting a 1.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP while striking out nearly three times as many hitters as he walked (29:10 K:BB ratio).

Working with a four-seam fastball that sits anywhere from 94-99 mph, a whiff-inducing split-finger fastball, and a so-so slider, Sawamura figures to play a key role in Boston’s bullpen puzzle in 2021.

“Multiple evaluators saw Sawamura as at least a seventh-inning reliever, a pitcher who alternately dominates the strike zone with elite stuff and then loses the strike zone completely,” The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote of Sawamura on February 10. “Still, based on his peaks in the NPB, there’s a chance for an even more prominent late-innings role.”

Marwin Gonzalez: Earlier Monday, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that Gonzalez is getting a straight-up, one-year deal with Boston worth $3 million for the 2021 season. No options or anything of the sort, though he could earn an additional $1.1 million in performance bonuses based off number of plate appearances.

That, of course, would take the total value of the contract up to $4.1 million.

Cotillo adds that Gonzalez, who turns 32 next month, is expected to arrive in Fort Myers for his physical at some point this week, though poor weather conditions in the southern part of the United States (i.e. Texas) may delay his arrival.

Once he does make his way to the Fenway South complex and passes his physical, though, Gonzalez’s deal with the Sox will become official.

As noted by Cotillo, the former Astro and Twin could be “slated for significant work in the outfield while also serving as a left-handed hitting complement to Bobby Dalbec at first base” in the wake of the trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals.

Over the last two seasons with Minnesota, Gonzalez slashed .248/.311/.387 with 20 home runs and 77 RBI in 167 total games played while seeing time at every defensive position besides pitcher, catcher, and centerfield.

The versatile Venezuelan’s best year in the majors came with Houston in 2017, when he clubbed a career-best 23 homers and drove in 90 RBI over 134 games.

He finished 19th in American League MVP voting that year, and will now be reunited with his former bench coach in Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

In order for the Red Sox to make the additions of Sawamura and Gonzalez official, they will need to find a way to clear two spots on their 40-man roster, which is currently at full capacity.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Sports Nippon/Getty Images)

Red Sox free agency rumors: Jackie Bradley Jr. seeking ‘significant contract, perhaps beyond four years,’ per report

Potential Red Sox free-agent target Jackie Bradley Jr. remains unsigned as major-league camps in Arizona and Florida are set to begin in just a matter of weeks.

There have not been too many recent rumblings as to where Bradley Jr. could land, but on Wednesday evening, The New York Post’s Mike Puma reported that the 30-year-old outfielder “has been seeking a significant contract, perhaps beyond four years.”

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 in April, is a client of super-agent Scott Boras.

The one-time All-Star and one-time Gold Glove award winner is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played (217 plate appearances) for the Sox.

Boston has expressed interest in a reunion with Bradley Jr. since the closing stages of last season, but the two sides do not appear to be anywhere close to an agreement on a new contract at the moment.

“As far as Jackie, as it’s been all offseason, we continue to stay in touch with him,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters late last month. “We have been this entire time. And I expect we’ll continue to until his free agency resolves.”

Although it’s out there that Bradley Jr. may be seeking a four-plus year deal from interested clubs, it would be interested to see how much he is looking for in terms of average annual value.

The former first-round draft selection may be the top centerfielder on the open market now that George Springer has signed with the Blue Jays, but the fact of the matter is that Bradley Jr., while superb in the outfield, has proven to be inconsistent at the plate over the course of eight-year major-league career.

With that in mind, it seems unlikely that a team such as the Mets would be willing to invest that much in a practically defense-first outfielder who is now on the other side of 30, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors’ Jeff Todd.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, are inching towards towards the $210 million luxury tax threshold with their 2021 payroll following the signings of Enrique Hernandez and Garrett Richards being made official, so they would probably prefer to avoid that much of an investment as well.

Given those circumstances, Boston could stand put and roll with an everyday outfield of Andrew Benintendi in left, Alex Verdugo in center, and Hunter Renfroe in right to open the 2021 season if they so choose.

Jarren Duran, one of the club’s top outfield prospects, also appears to be on the cusp of getting big-league consideration sometime this summer.

The 24-year-old, who played winter ball for Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League, is currently representing Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series.

If not Verdugo or Duran, the Red Sox could look at other free-agents still available who have experience playing center field, such as Jake Marisnick and old friend Kevin Pillar.

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Newly retired Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia underwent partial knee replacement in December

More than 12 months before announcing his retirement from baseball on Monday after spending 17 years with the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia was preparing for the 2020 regular season.

The longtime second baseman was limited to just six games in 2019 and had undergone a successful left knee joint preservation procedure — his third knee surgery since October 2017 — that August in Colorado.

“Last January, going into [the 2020 season],  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 told reporters via Zoom earlier Monday. “I went and saw the doctors and it looked like an explosion went off in there. So, I was told that I needed to get a partial knee replacement.”

Given the logistics that go into a procedure of that magnitude, it took quite a bit of time for Pedroia — with the Red Sox helping him research which doctor would be best to perform the operation — to set something up.

“By the time that that happened, by the time I was going to have that surgery, the pandemic hit,” the 37-year-old continued. “That set everything back a lot. So, it got to a point where finally surgeries opened back up. And in December, I had a partial knee replacement.”

Pedroia spent the entirety of 2020 (spring training, summer camp, regular season) away from the Red Sox and instead spent time with his family at home in Arizona.

“I’m glad none of you guys got a chance to see me. I wasn’t in a good place,” he said. “I grinded every day just to be able to play with my kids and just live a normal life. My knee was bad, and I’m a young guy.

It took approximately a week after the surgery for Pedroia to be able to walk with no pain in his knee, but he is still dealing with the repercussions from the operation now.

“In December, I had the surgery, and a week later, I could tell that I could walk without pain,” said the four-time All-Star. “I can basically do everything now except run. I can’t run anymore, which is fine. I don’t need to run. Once I had the surgery, nobody has played with a partial knee replacement because of the fear of it breaks and the rest of my life would be severely impacted by it.”

With this in mind, Pedroia’s playing career effectively came to an end, which at the time was frustrating considering the fact that the former American League MVP had put together back-to-back solid campaigns in his age-32 and -33 seasons in 2016 and 2017.

“I think the hardest part was I felt like I was in my prime and understanding how to play the game as I got older,” Pedroia stated. “2016 was one of my best years, and the first month of ’17 I was rolling right along and one play kind of derailed a lot of that and threw all of us in a pattern we were trying to find a way to get out of.”

That one play, of course, would be when former Orioles infielder Manny Machado slid into Pedroia’s left knee during the eighth inning of a game in Baltimore on April 21, 2017.

Pedroia still managed to play 105 games in 2017 despite that play, but offseason surgery that winter all but marked the end of his playing career despite several valiant efforts to return.

“After all of our trainers and doctors and everybody… We saw everybody and we did it together and we heard the news that it wasn’t possible to play with this,” he said. “So, when the cards are stacked against you, I tried — we all tried to do everything possible to continue to play. And I’m proud of that and I’m proud of the way that our trainers helped me and the doctors and everybody.”

As hard as he tried to come back from injury by playing in three games in 2018 and six in 2019, Pedroia reached a point where his body could not keep up any longer, and that came when he underwent partial knee replacement late last year.

“But it wasn’t physically possible for me to continue to play baseball with a partial knee replacement,” said Pedroia. “So once I got that done, I knew. And the team has been great at leading me in the right directions on things to do and how to get better. And just to be better for my everyday life. Because I’m only 37 years old and I’ve got a long way to go.”

(Picture of Dustin Pedroia: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)