Commentary

Dustin Pedroia likes what he sees

Red Sox spark plug endorses Stephen Drew signing, believes in Jose Iglesias

Updated: December 17, 2012, 11:46 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Red Sox All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia has had a total of 12 double-play partners at shortstop since 2007.

Those fortunate enough to play with Pedroia include Julio Lugo, Nick Green, Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, Mike Aviles, Jose Iglesias, Alex Cora, Alex Gonzalez, Pedro Ciriaco, Nick Punto, Drew Sutton and Yamaico Navarro.

The Red Sox would like some sort of stability on the left side of the infield, and that steadiness could arrive soon in the form of either Iglesias or Xander Bogaerts. But with news Monday that the Red Sox agreed on a one-year deal with veteran shortstop Stephen Drew, it appears the club believes it needs a stopgap before Iglesias or Bogaerts are ready for the big leagues.

[+] EnlargeDustin Pedroia
Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY SportsDustin Pedroia is confident Jose Iglesias will put in the work to improve at the plate.

Pedroia has known Drew since they played against each other at the collegiate level at Arizona State and Florida State, respectively. Pedroia also played with Drew's brother, J.D., for five seasons in Boston.

Even though Iglesias and Bogaerts are the future, Drew will be the present -- and Pedroia's good with that.

"He's a good player. He's going to be a big part of it. He's definitely motivated to have a great year and be ready to play," Pedroia told ESPNBoston.com.

At the start of the offseason, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington repeatedly said the shortstop position was on the back burner as the club concentrated on filling other needs in the outfield and on the mound. The GM added that this winter would be an important one for the 22-year-old Iglesias in preparation for the 2013 season.

Iglesias played a total of 25 games for the Red Sox after he was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 25, and finished the season with a .118 average, two RBIs, 16 strikeouts and four walks in 77 plate appearances. If Iglesias thought the starting shortstop job was going to be handed to him in spring training, Drew's signing should serve as motivation.

"I'm sure we're signing Stephen to go out there and play," Pedroia said. "Iggy, I'm sure he understands that. He understands he needs to get better and there are things he needs to work on. I haven't talked to Iggy since we signed Drew, but that's a part of the game."

Pedroia dealt with a similar situation in 2006.

The Red Sox knew Pedroia would be a major contributor in Boston at some point, but the club realized he needed more time in the minors to hone his skills. So that offseason, the Red Sox traded for veteran infielder Mark Loretta to bridge the gap until Pedroia was ready.

"At first I was upset, but in the long run I think it helped me become a better player," Pedroia said. "I needed to go to Triple-A and learn, and it was the best thing for me. Things work out for a reason, and, hopefully, he uses that motivation to get better, to become smarter and to learn how to play the game better.

SportsNation

What's your instant reaction to the Red Sox's 1-year, $9.5 million deal with SS Stephen Drew?

  •  
    77%
  •  
    23%

Discuss (Total votes: 9,438)

"He wants to learn and that's why everybody around thinks he's going to be a good one, because he wants to learn. I mean, he came from Cuba and he learned English in a year. He picks up things quick, and that's not easy. He needs to learn and he's definitely willing to do it. He came out to Arizona and worked his butt off for the three days I was with him. He's going to put in the time."

When Pedroia examines Iglesias' body of work, the veteran knows the rookie is still developing. Pedroia was no different at the start of his pro career, and with the help of veterans such as Mike Lowell, Alex Cora, Jason Varitek and David Ortiz, Pedroia learned how to properly prepare for a grueling 162-game season.

As the 2012 season came to an end, Pedroia and Iglesias talked about the possibility of working out together at some point during the offseason. Pedroia invited him to Arizona and earlier this month the two began a three-day session on Dec. 10.

Camp Pedey was in full swing.

"I'm just trying to help him anyway I can to try to become a better player," Pedroia said. "It was good.

"I was fortunate enough when I was a young player to have Mike Lowell, Alex Cora, Tek, a lot of veteran guys, even David, to help me learn how to work out in the offseason and how to prepare yourself for a lot of games. I felt, as I'm getting older, I have that responsibility to help out young guys."

Pedey and Iggy worked out each morning and spent the afternoons on the field. They played catch, hit both in the cage and on the field and even mixed in a few ground balls.

From an offensive standpoint, the two spent time watching video, and Pedroia tried to pinpoint different aspects of Iglesias' approach at the plate and talked about ways to improve in those areas.

"As far as body type, he weighs 175 pounds and I weigh 165 pounds, so I can relate to him on an offensive approach," Pedroia said. "I'm not like David, who weighs 230 pounds and can drive the ball out of the ballpark. You have to be smart in your approach and know when to take chances and know how your swing is and what can make you better, and make adjustments. That's the one thing he needs to do -- and knows that -- and he's going to work at it."

Their discussions weren't limited to baseball.

It's common to see players eating fast food at the minor-league levels, but that's not the case in the big leagues.

"I talked to him about how to eat because that stuff's important," Pedroia said. "If you're eating McDonald's every day, I'm sure it tastes great but you're a major league baseball player. You're a pro athlete. You have to make sure you prepare the right way because that stuff matters."

Also, from a health standpoint, Pedroia realized Iglesias' playing time in the minors has been limited because of a variety of nagging injuries, including a lower-back strain and a minor knee injury. Pedroia's message was simple: Get strong during the winter so you'll be ready for the summer.

"If you're doing things the right way, knock on wood, those little things won't happen," Pedroia said.

As far as the other offseason moves the Red Sox have made, Pedroia said he's pumped about the way the roster is shaping up.

"It's exciting with the direction the team is going," he said. "A lot of people may question some of the moves we've made, but, as a player, when you look at them, we're all excited.

"We're ready to get out there and play. The guys we got, those are the guys that are hungry. They're ready to go out there and play. It's going to be exciting."

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

EDITORS' PICKS

ALSO SEE