Boston Red Sox: Born to Play

Pedroia ready to return to Coors Field

June, 21, 2010
BOSTON -- To say Dustin Pedroia is in the midst of one of his perennial hot streaks would be an understatement.

The Red Sox second baseman has hit safely in each of his last 10 games and is batting .500 (20-for-40) with 12 runs, 4 doubles, 1 home run and 8 RBI during this streak. His ailing right knee is feeling better and it’s showing at the plate.

After the Red Sox completed their sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday night, Boston is off Monday before beginning a three-game series against the Rockies on Tuesday in Colorado. The last time the Red Sox played at Coors Field, they celebrated their second World Series title in four seasons when they swept the Rockies in the 2007 Fall Classic.

During that postseason run, Pedroia hit .283 with two homers and 10 RBI, starting all 14 playoffs games. In the World Series, he hit .278 with four RBI and even homered to lead off the bottom of the first inning in Game 1 at Fenway Park.

After the Red Sox won Game 2 at Fenway, they traveled to Denver for Games 3 and 4. But Pedroia, a rookie at the time, had a little trouble getting into the ballpark prior to Game 3, because a security guard didn’t believe he was a major-leaguer.

Here’s the prologue of Pedroia’s autobiography “Born to Play: My Life in the Game” where author Edward J. Delaney describes the scene at Coors Field:

He’s right at the gate, and they won’t let him pass. It seems that for so long, that’s always been how it is.

It’s Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, and Dustin Pedroia is once again trying to get where people don’t believe he should go. It’s been that way in high school and college and in the minor leagues and in the majors. And now, in the World Series, where he’s playing for the Boston Red Sox, who have just arrived at Denver’s Coors Field to get ready for that evening’s Game Three against the Colorado Rockies.

But the security guard who patrols the players’ entrance isn’t buying the idea that this … kid … could possibly be a major-league ballplayer.

To this guard, whose job it is to know a major-leaguer from everybody else trying to crash the party, this kid is clearly another one of these wanna-be’s. They come like this, the autograph seekers, the hangers-on, the jokers. Clearly you can tell the kinds of guys who do not belong in a big-league clubhouse. They’re always trying to fake their way in, or push their way in, or talk their way in.

This guy has got to be kidding. Look at him! Too short, too slight, too young. He looks too much like a normal person, too much like the rest of us. The real players have been coming through, men with size and substance and the looks that speak of lifetimes of success upon success. There is, always, a kind of easiness to them that does not reside in the everyday people who line up at the turnstiles and pay to enter.
And now this guy’s trying to slip past? The guard isn’t buying it, but the kid is still trying to push on through.

That’s how it’s always been, the giant talent in the small package, the looks-can- be-deceiving attitude that forms itself in a swagger, and an attitude, and sometimes in anger, be it real or sarcastic. The chip on the shoulder; the in-your-face posture.

The guard at this gate wants an ID, but when he is shown it, he still can’t bring himself to believe it. The anger forms in the kid’s face, the voice rises.

Dustin Pedroia has come a long way to be here, and now he’s this close to the dream. He’s just going to push on by. He’s going to make them have to stop him.

After Sunday’s 2-0 victory over the Dodgers, Pedroia was asked about returning to Coors and if security will recognize him this time.

“Probably not. I didn’t get better-looking, so probably not,” he said. “It’s a great place and a great city. They have a good team, too, and a guy (Ubaldo Jiminez, 13-1) who’s having an unbelievable season. It should be fun. It’s great. I like interleague. It’s fun playing those guys you never really see.”

Pedroia: Two funny stories on Manny

June, 17, 2010
BOSTON -- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia released his autobiography last July called “Born to Play: My Life in the Game” with author Edward J. Delaney. Here are a couple of excerpts from the book in which Pedroia briefly touches on his relationship with former teammate Manny Ramirez:

I’d had my time with the team at the end of 2006, so I felt a little more familiar coming back to spring training. Most of the guys were very welcoming as I came back in. One of the funny stories, though, was involving Manny Ramirez.

I had first met Manny when I was in minor-league camp that first spring training in 2005. I went with one of my roommates to Best Buy and Manny was there by himself. He was buying some CDs. So I went over to him and introduced myself. I said, “Hey, I just got drafted by the Red Sox and I wanted to say hello.”

I had always been a big Manny fan. So we stood there in the Best Buy and I talked to him then, and he was great. I didn’t see him again for the rest of 2005. And I didn’t talk to him that much when I got called up in 2006. I was a new guy, and knew my place, and Manny was just doing his thing.

I came back for camp in 2007, and something hilarious happened. Manny had run into my wife -- we lived down the street from each other in spring training in Cape Coral that year -- at the gas station. My wife is awesome, very friendly and outgoing, and she just went up to him and said, “Hi, Manny. I’m Dustin Pedroia’s wife. I just wanted to introduce myself.”

This was going into 2007 and there was a pretty good chance I was going to be the starting second baseman, so we were getting to know everyone. Kelli told me about meeting Manny, and how nice he was to her, and how she was so excited to be treated the way he treated her.

I got to the ballpark the next day and I went into the outfield and said to him, “Hey, Manny, I heard you met my wife at the gas station in Cape Coral.”

He said, “No. I didn’t meet your wife. I met Pedey’s wife.” I said, “No, Manny, that’s my wife.” He said, “No. No. That’s Pedey’s wife!” I said, “Manny. . . What the [expletive]? I am Pedey! What the hell is wrong with you?” I was arguing with Manny Ramirez over whether I was me. He almost had me believing I wasn’t.

At the start of the season, I didn’t think he even knew who the hell I was. I didn’t know what was going on. So after that it was kind of weird. I told some of the guys and they said, “Dude, listen. He really doesn’t know you, yet. So when he gets to know you he’ll remember your name.”

“Oh, OK. That sounds good.”

And here’s another ...

When we came in that spring [in 2008], I was now a teammate, not just a guy trying to make it into the lineup. I knew the guys, and they knew me. Manny and I continued to build a relationship. I think he saw the way I played and it made it fun for him to see a young kid enjoy baseball so much. Manny’s a big kid himself. He loves to play baseball. Baseball is my life, that’s all I know. I think he admired that and he started to respect me in a different way than just looking at me as just a rookie and a young guy.
His locker was in the back of the clubhouse at City of Palms Park, along with guys like Ortiz, Lugo and Sean Casey. My locker was nearby, so he walked over, with a bat over his shoulder and a gift-wrapped box in his hand, and just handed it to me.

I started taking off the wrapping paper, and I saw the word “Rolex” on the box. Just as I did, Manny smashed his bat into the box, putting this big dent in it.

When he did that, I figured it was just a joke. Manny was always doing crazy things. It was just another Manny goof.

But I opened the box, and it really was a Rolex watch. I suddenly remembered the summer before, when he’d told me if I won Rookie of the Year he’d buy me a watch. Now he was following through on that. And he’d written a nice note that congratulated me.

I thought, “Damn. He smashed a $20,000 watch that he just gave me with his bat. Is this guy crazy?”

Then Manny went wandering off. Why he would take his bat and smash a really expensive Rolex he was giving me, I still have no idea.