There will be plenty to watch as Dustin Pedroia takes the field this spring. The famously hard playing second baseman is back in camp at Fenway South preparing for a real return to action this season. Pedroia appeared in just three games in 2018 after recovering from knee surgery in October 2017.
Despite his reputation for being hardheaded, Pedroia sounded altogether reasonable in Fort Myers this week. He told the assembled media that he’s feeling good “but I have to be smart.” In a nod to his temperament, Pedey made it clear that his priority is being ready to play. “I know everyone thinks I’m crazy and I won’t listen to anybody, but that’s not the case. I want to make sure I’m on the field and doing all I can to help us win.”
Before an injury-shortened 2017 Pedroia was highly effective the year before, slashing .318 AVG/.376 OBP/.449 SLG with 15 home runs and 74 RBI over 154 games. His 117 OPS+ in 2016 was his best such mark since a career-best 131 OPS+ in 2011.
Now some news and notes for Red Sox fans:
- A bullpen without Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, or any significant replacements for them has to be a concern for Red Sox fans as we head into the new season. For their part, the Sox are counting on a now healthy Steven Wright and also turnaround from Tyler Thornburg, who has been working with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. Thornburg says his off-season has been focused on improving. “All day, every day in the off-season was trying to get better,” Thornburg told NBC Sports. “Trying to get to where I know I can be, where I want to be. That was pretty much every day in the off-season for me.” Thornburg owned an outsized 5.43 ERA last season over 25 appearances in 2018, his first major league action since Boston acquired him in December 2016.
- Chris Sale says he’d “love to” stay with the Red Sox as he approaches free agency next year. Sale thinks of Boston as “a special place…a very special city and an unbelievable fan base.” Club chairman Tom Werner says there have been conversations about a new contract with Sale but at this point, “the best thing for us is to keep these conversations private.”
- Expect a rotating cast of characters on Red Sox radio this season. The braintrust at WEEI broke up a good duo when they let Tim Neverett walk away after three years broadcasting games alongside Red Sox Hall of Fame broadcaster Joe Castiglione. Eschewing any value that can be attributed to consistency, Sean McDonough, Chris Berman, Josh Lewin, and Mario Impemba will presumably be trying out for the permanent gig as will station personalities Lou Merloni and Dale Arnold, and NESN’s Tom Caron. Los Angeles is the chief beneficiary of EEI’s folly with Neverett signed to a radio and TV deal with the Dodgers.
- It’s hard not to hear the strains of Reunited while reading about Jorge Posada‘s latest gig. The former Yankees backstop was hired on by Marlins’ CEO Derek Jeter as a special advisor with unspecified responsibilities. Jeter and Posada were the nucleus of the Yankees’ glory days. Posada retired from baseball in 2011.
- Former Red Sox steedster Jacoby Ellsbury, who missed all of 2018, won’t make it on time to Yankees Spring Training this year, ailing with plantar fasciitis. Boston certainly got the best of young Ellsbury who never performed in pinstripes the same way as at Fenway. New York remains on the hook to Ells for $21 million this year and next before the relief of a $5 million buyout in 2021.
- Former Red Sox pitcher Doug Fister, 35, has decided to retire. The 10-year major league veteran spent 2017 with Boston going 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA over 18 games (15 starts).