BOSTON (CBS) — For a decade or so, Dustin Pedroia always led by example as the Red Sox’ hardest-working player. He was always the first one at the ballpark and he always made it very clear that he lived and breathed baseball for every waking hour of every day.
That part of Pedroia hasn’t changed much, but the 2017 season might have taken some shine off one of Boston’s favorite athletes.
He distanced himself from his manager and his teammates after Manny Machado’s hard slide into second left Pedroia injured. He reportedly cheered when David Price unprofessionally lit up Dennis Eckersley on the team plane. He was at the center of the whole Apple Watch controversy that ended up casting a bad light on the organization and manager John Farrell. And injuries limited him to just 105 games played on the year — the second time since 2015 that he’s missed more than 55 games in a season.
And once the season ended on Monday, here’s what Pedroia said when asked about the job done by Farrell.
“I thought John did a great job,” Pedroia said. “We won the division. There was never any quit on this team. I’m proud of everybody in here. We dealt with a lot, and our fight continued every single day. I know we didn’t achieve our goals but I’m proud of how everybody went about their business and showed up for everybody and played to win.”
This response rubbed Fred Toucher the wrong way.
“I don’t know how difficult it is for you to say, ‘This is very disappointing. I don’t put this on Farrell. Ultimately it’s up to us to perform. I am more guilty than anyone. I’m not proud of the way I played. I haven’t been good in the playoffs the last two years.’ You don’t think he knows he’s hitting .130? I bet you he knows to the number what he’s hitting in the postseason,” Fred said. “How difficult is that? What are you doing?
“And you’ve ‘been through a lot’? What, you’ve been through a couple of injuries? Or are you talking about all the stupid crap that was self-created on this team?” Fred continued. “Yeah, you’re behaving like a real veteran, throwing a tantrum to maybe what — get yourself kicked out of the game? Because you know that you’re going to be responsible for the final out? You can see the future? You’re a soothsayer?”
Pedroia went 2-for-16 (.125) in this year’s ALDS with just two singles and two walks, and he made the final out of the season by grounding out to second base. It was a continuation of last year’s playoffs, when he went 2-for-12 (.167) with two walks and five strikeouts. Since the 2008 postseason, he’s hit just .212 (31-for-146) with eight doubles, three home runs, and 25 strikeouts.
Ultimately, Fred said that Pedroia’s proven that he cannot be a leader for the Red Sox.
“Pedroia is mystifying. He apparently has done some number on the people that are around there every day where he looks into their eyes and hypnotizes them into thinking he’s a special kind of guy,” Fred said. “He’s incapable of being a leader. And the evidence of that is right off the field, second year in a row you’ve lost in the divisional round, and you’re saying how you’ve won the division two years in a row.”
Pedroia is signed for four more seasons, so he’s likely to remain with the Red Sox. But the belief on Yawkey Way after a disappointing 2017 is likely that Pedroia is not the right man to fill the void in the clubhouse left by David Ortiz.