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BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox have never had a 38-year-old second baseman, unless you want to count Eddie Joost, who played 17 games there in 1955, or Tom Carey, who played there three times in 1946.
"He already thinks Fenway is his backyard," Pedroia, who lives a short walk from the ballpark during the season and winters in Arizona, said of Dylan on Tuesday.
"My boys [Cole is the younger one] were born here. Every offseason, I talk to Dylan and say, 'You ready to go back to Boston?'
"It's home, you know?"
And the Red Sox are doing everything within their power to keep it that way. Shoot, do you have any trouble imagining this guy sticking around as long as the beloved Johnny Pesky did, hitting fungoes to players young enough to be grandsons, sitting on a folding chair and signing autographs for snowbirds in spring training while regaling them with funny stories and punch lines that invariably revolve around Terry Francona?
"I sent him a text earlier," his cribbage partner said to Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio. "I said, 'Congratulations, and I hope you failed the physical."'
|With a contract that runs through 2021, Dustin Pedroia says he lives and dies with the Red Sox.|
"He sets the tone for us," manager John Farrell said, "and he embodies everything that we value as far as a player. The respect of the game that he has, and the effort which he puts forth every night."
If you judge a player's popularity by the number of people wearing his jersey, then Pedroia has already displaced David Ortiz as the face of the franchise. Pedroia is the only Red Sox player who cracked MLB's top 20 in jerseys sold this season, though that could also be a function of more little kids imagining themselves growing up to be Pedroia than Big Papi. Fewer pencil marks on the door jambs.
But the decision to extend Pedroia through the end of this decade and into the next was calculated not merely on Pedroia's standing among the faithful, the intangibles he brings every day he shows up at the ballpark or because it made sense economically, since Robinson Cano will blow up the market for elite second basemen this winter as a free agent.
Within the Sox calculus, we can guarantee that the team views Pedroia as another Craig Biggio, the second baseman who was 41 when he retired from the Houston Astros and in 10 of his last 11 seasons played in 140 or more games, 160 or more four times.Biggio finished with 3,060 career hits and is destined for a place in Cooperstown. Through his age-30 season, he had 1,279 hits. Pedroia should finish this season with at least 1,200. Too soon to say he'll maintain a 3,000-hit pace or last long enough to reach that number, but the Sox expect him to remain a highly productive player.
For the record, Biggio's slash line at 38: .281/.337/.469/.806. That OPS would rank sixth among everyday second basemen today, just behind Pedroia's .807.
Health, of course, is the unknowable variable, but this we do know: Pedroia played the season's first two-plus months with a torn ligament in his left thumb, and no one even noticed a difference. The man simply cannot abide not playing. "I think I'll play the same way every game I play until the end," Pedroia said, "so that's about it."
And that end will now almost certainly come with Boston. As it should.
"It's really important to me," Pedroia said. "I love being here. I live and die by this team. It's important to me to be here my whole time."