Earlier this week, Dustin Pedroia retired from baseball after 17 years with the Red Sox organization.
The 37-year-old infielder took approximately 37 minutes to field questions from reporters during a Zoom press conference on Monday. And while he said it will likely be a while before he considers a return to baseball in a full-time, non-playing capacity, it appears that his words could already be making an impact on the Red Sox.
That being the case because in his presser, Pedroia spoke of the way he approached everyday of his baseball career from the time he was a young child until the time he was a veteran big-leaguer.
“There was a reason why I was the first one dressed at 5:30 for a 7 o’clock game,” Pedroia said Monday. “The biggest thing in my mind was, ‘This could be my last game. You don’t know.’ And that’s the way I approached it from Little League on. I played every game like it was my last one. I had the best time playing… I never took one play off from Little League on.”
These words, as well as plenty of others from the former American League MVP resonated with many, including Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. He said as much himself during a virtual town hall event earlier Thursday afternoon.
“If you didn’t get a chance to watch his press conference, go watch it,” Bloom said of Pedroia. “I was watching this and I said, ‘Every young player who comes into our organization should watch this, and just see how he talks about how he got after his craft.’ That’s what we want from every young player. The things he cares about: preparing, working hard, being the best teammate and winning. That’s really what it’s all about.”
As far as the role Bloom and Co. envision for Pedroia in the future, the CBO said that topic was one of the first topics touched upon when the two sides discussed how the four-time All-Star’s career would come to a close.
“It’s still early, and as he said really eloquently in his press conference, he’s going to prioritize family, and especially those three boys, right now,” stated Bloom. “But, as we were navigating this retirement, we started the conversation with him. He knows we want him to be involved. It’s really a question of figuring out what works for him in a way that’s going to be really productive for the organization.”
Now that Pedroia has retired, the Red Sox would obviously like to celebrate the longtime second baseman’s career in ceremonial fashion at Fenway Park this coming season.
The only thing preventing that from happening is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which will presumably place a limit on how many fans can attend Red Sox home games in 2021.
“We will absolutely appropriately celebrate Pedey,” team president and CEO Sam Kennedy said of the club’s plans to honor Pedroia. “But, we have to do it when we have a packed house, or at least have some fans back. He deserves that, and I know fans want to see him.
“I just would echo exactly what Chaim said,” Kennedy continued. “What an incredible role model, spokesperson, someone you want to try and emulate. If you have a young person playing any sport, the work ethic, the commitment, the passion, you can’t teach that. He was an original. Such an important part of everything that’s gone on here the past 20 years. Really looking forward to the day when we can welcome him into the organization in some capacity. But, I don’t think it will be for a while. I think he really wants to be home and be with his family, and he’s privileged to be in a position to do that. So, we’ll be patient.
For now, Pedroia — even without taking on a full-time role within the organization — will still play an important part for Boston moving forward in 2021 and beyond.
Just ask Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
“He’ll be facetiming a lot of people. We know that,” Cora said with a smirk. “He’s still going to be a presence, obviously. With everything that is going on, whenever we get him back at Fenway it’s going to be a fun day. He will always be welcome. Nonstop texting, calling people, helping players out. He’s going to be a big part of what we are trying to accomplish not only this year but the upcoming years… This guy, the last two years, three years, has been very important to the program, and that’s not going to change.”
(Picture of Dustin Pedroia: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)