|Dustin Pedroia, Blog Entry No. 1||03.08.09 at 11:56 pm ET|
(Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be blogging for WEEI.com throughout the World Baseball Classic. His first entry comes after Team USA clinched a berth in the next round having beaten Canada and Venezuela at the Rogers Centre.)
TORONTO — First things first … this is a great experience.
It started Saturday when we walked into play Canada before 42,000 people and a crazy atmosphere. The first thing I think: “Am I ready for this?” I hadn’t seen many pitches and really hadn’t had a whole lot of at-bats. I turned to Youk and said, ‘This is for real!’ It was playoff atmosphere right away. It became clear in a hurry that I had to find a way to get it going.
The whole day was like a circus. Obviously, I’ll remember winning, but there were also moments like the ones where every time they flashed up my ‘MLB ’09: The Show’ commercial on the huge screen everybody booed. And then Justin Morneau would be announced and everybody would cheer. (In case you forgot, Morneau finished right behind me in the American League MVP voting.) That was funny, but I wasn’t really prepared for them to play the commercial like four times.
As for playing, I’m hoping this environment is going to help me get locked in quicker. It’s tough, though. I think Jake Peavy said he threw off a mound like twice, and the same with Roy Oswalt. You’re trying to win and locate pitches as a pitcher, and for the hitters you’re trying to have good at-bats when your timing is off. You have really got to grind it out, and fortunately a lot of guys on this team know how to do that.
Even after that first game I felt a little out of sync. That carried over for the first four at-bats of Sunday night’s game, even on the last of those when I hit a double down the left-field line. But then in my last two at-bats I started feeling better. I crushed a ball to the right field fence. Now, a couple of things about that fly ball …
The first is that during the season I would have definitely had an idea if that ball was gone or not. But in this case I thought it was over the fence. Just another part of the game you have to slowly get used to.
Second, it is a little known fact that I have never hit an opposite field home run in my life. Not one. So when the ball left the bat not only did I think it was a home run, but I also immediately thought that I was in the process of making my own personal history with my first opposite field bomb. I thought, ‘There it is!’ Then Bobby Abreu catches it at the wall … shoot!
There were other memorable moments from Sunday night, such a group of fans in center field who were yelling the whole game. At the end they started chanting Derek Jeter’s name, like they do at Yankee Stadium, which gets an acknowledgement from Derek with a wave of the glove. If you’re a Yankee you’re used to it. But then they start chanting my name. I didn’t know what to do. I just turned around a little bit and smiled. I was like, ‘Damn, dudes. It’s late.’ Evidently it was enough because they moved on to the next players.
Now we’ve got two more days before playing again, but it’s important to stay on a schedule. This time of year you have to get in as much hitting as possible, which is why I’ll be back for the optional workout Monday, lifting, hitting and taking some grounders. I’m also going online a lot to see how the guys are doing back in Fort Myers, along with texting Tito each day with updates on how I’m progressing.
But, again, this whole experience has really been a blast, and winning, of course, doesn’t hurt, either.
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