Boston Red Sox fans rejoiced this Memorial Day weekend as the team announced that their 34-year-old second-baseman would be coming back to the lineup. Dustin Pedroia played in only 105 games last season and had knee surgery in October to repair his nagging injury. Pedroia made his 2018 debut on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park, where he was welcomed back with a resounding ovation from Red Sox Nation.
In his first two games back against the Braves, Pedroia did not get a hit, but he walked twice. His swing did look solid, but several times when he made contact, the Braves made impressive plays in field. He sat out Monday’s game to rest with the Sox playing three consecutive day games.
In Saturday’s game, Pedroia batted sixth. This will likely be his home for the time being, although manager Alex Cora is known to move around the lineup here and there. Pedroia even hit in the cleanup spot Sunday after a late scratch of Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez getting a scheduled day off. In the past, Pedroia has been successful in the two-spot, and occasionally the leadoff spot as well. However, Betts seems to have locked up the leadoff spot with his MVP-caliber season, and Andrew Benintendi has been smacking the ball in the two-spot as of late.
Pedroia scored a critical run in Saturday’s win with a magnificent headfirst slide, as seen about thirty seconds into the video below. Fans know that Pedroia is back to normal when he is passionately yelling and his jersey is covered in dirt. This is a great sign for the Red Sox.
Cora was pleased with Pedroia’s performance in his debut, and he is looking forward to his contributions down the stretch. Cora is fond not only of Pedroia’s play on the field, but also his positive clubhouse presence.
“Great baserunning,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He looked ‘fast.’ You can ask him. The way he moved, that was good to see. He put [together] good at-bats. He got the walk. The at-bat against [Peter] Moylan. [Ronald] Acuna, made a nice play. It was nice to have him back. The energy he brings, it’s off the roof, it’s cool to have him around.”
Ian Browne, MLB.com
Having Pedroia back and healthy is crucial for the Red Sox. In a lineup composed of primarily younger players, the team needs a veteran to provide leadership and guidance throughout the long season. If the Red Sox were to name a captain, they would definitely give Pedroia the title. Pedroia has been in the organization since he was drafted in 2004 and has built quite the résumé in Boston. Notably, he won the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year, 2008 Most Valuable Player, and was a vital member of two World Series championship teams in 2007 and 2013. “Pedey” deservedly should be dubbed captain if the Red Sox ever decided to do so.
Along with Cora and several teammates, Pedroia attended Sunday night’s Eastern Conference Final with the hometown Boston Celtics losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7. It is definitely great to see Pedroia supporting his local teams as a beloved figure in the city of Boston.
Dustin Pedroia’s return increases the depth of an already-loaded lineup for the Red Sox. The Red Sox sit at an MLB-best 37-17 record, and the team will only be boosted by the addition of their veteran star.