By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — To make it as a professional athlete, you have to be gifted with tremendous talent. But you also have to be willing to put in more work than everybody else.
Nobody knows that more than Dustin Pedroia, the undersized, always-doubted second baseman for the Red Sox. From his days as a kid, through his time in college, and even on his journey as a professional, Pedroia heard from all doubters and critics that he’d never be big enough to make it as a pro.
A dozen big-league seasons — along with two World Series championships, a Rookie Of The Year Award, and an American League MVP trophy — later, Pedroia’s managed to prove them all wrong.
He’s also been willing to pay it forward, so to speak, as evidenced by a brief story told on Twitter by Red Sox minor leaguer Jeremy Barfield.
Though Barfield is 29 years old and has yet to crack a big league roster, his dream remains intact, thanks in large part to some wisdom dispensed by Pedroia — when Barfield was trying to earn some cash by hanging Christmas lights on Pedroia’s house.
Of course, the advice to “keep grinding” is not exactly groundbreaking, but it clearly stuck with Barfield.
Whether he actually makes the Red Sox roster is another matter. He batted .288 while belting 27 home runs in 92 games for Double-A Portland last year, and he went 5-for-11 at the plate in his three games at the Triple-A level. But it provided enough motivation to be remembered by a player whose baseball journey has seen him play for various teams in a number of different leagues at a number of different levels in places like Vancouver; Stockton, Calif.; Midland, Texas; Venezuela; Sacramento; Albuquerque; Mexico; New Britain, Conn.; Camden, N.J.; Sugar Land, Texas; Portland, Maine; and Pawtucket, R.I. He’s also gone from being an outfielder to a pitcher, then back to an outfielder, over the course of his decade in pro baseball.
At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, maybe he’s a late bloomer who finally figured things out, somewhat similarly to the way Daniel Nava made his debut (in grand fashion) at age 27. (Side note: He’s got a pretty powerful golf swing. And he’s got some good jokes. Seems like he’s pretty good at Twitter.)
He may get a shot at the big leagues next year. He may not. Either way, after sharing that story, he’ll have a lot more people rooting for him to get his chance.