How a few talks with John Henry may have cemented Dustin Pedroia’s future with Red Sox
|02.12.13 at 7:44 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘ John Henry reiterated the obvious Monday ‘ long-term contracts ‘ of the five-, six-, and seven-year variety –in the world of Major League Baseball are becoming fewer and fewer.
But, as the Red Sox principal owner also pointed out, there are exceptions.
Asked if Dustin Pedroia might indeed be an aberration — one those kind of players deserving of eventually garnering the out-of-the-ordinary commitments — the answer was swift.
‘Yes,’ Henry said.
He then added, ‘I don’t know if aberration is the right term, but he’s everything you want in a player. You see someone who wants to be here. We’re not at that point yet with Dustin, when we get there we’ll be everything we can to make him happy, and he is happy.’
And Pedroia concurs, despite a good chance extension conversations will kick up at some point in spring training, such talk isn’t a priority right now.
‘To be honest, I’m not looking at anything like that. I’m looking at tomorrow,’ said the second baseman, who is under team control through 2015. ‘The older I get, the more I realize I have to take one day at a time. I just worry about tomorrow. The contract stuff ‘¦ When my contract is up, or if it’s not up, it doesn’t matter. I takes care of itself. The Red Sox, they know how I feel about them, and I know how they feel about me. It’s just a matter of me and the rest of the guys performing and representing our team and city the right way.’
But when it does come time to talk about a deal, both Henry and Pedroia might look back at 2012 as the season the relationship was cemented.
On a couple of occasions in the nightmare that was the ‘12 campaign, it was actually Henry who helped ease Pedroia’s frustration via some timely conversations. Never before during the player’s career had he been forced to lean on the top of the organizational food chain for assurance, but this time was different.
‘I think he knew last year was an aberration. I think he knew what he was going through, that this wasn’t the norm,’ he said. ‘He’s been here long enough to know how we do things. At some level, he was frustrated because you put your heart, mind, body and soul into 162 games and you’re not winning. He had to be frustrated last year. At some level I think he knew we would get right.’
While it might have seemed eventually finding a better place would be a no-brainer, such a dynamic was hard for the second baseman to imagine at the time.
‘I hadn’t really talked to him a lot in any year, but the conversations I’ve had have been awesome,’ Pedroia said. ‘He looks at you as a person first. Every time I talk to him he’s always asking me how my family is doing. He’s your boss and as a player it means a lot when a guy stops by and says hello. He’s a great guy to play for.
‘I had a few conversations with him. I never lost before and obviously I took it hard. Last year was like slow death. Night after night, we weren’t playing good ball. He’s always positive. He’s always telling you better things are coming and there’s always a positive outlook. That means a lot.’
The talks weren’t thick with negotiating, or hollow promises. It was simply a player attempting to find a sense of peace of mind through a rarely underutilized source.
‘I remember one time we talked in Seattle. It was a great conversation and he was so positive. It gives you that extra boost to go out there and play even harder,’ Pedroia said. ‘I was definitely appreciative of the talk. When I get there I kind of put my head down. Usually I don’t take a deep breath and talk to anybody. Usually you don’t get a chance to do that in baseball because there are so many things going on in the game. But it was nice to hear that he said we were going to head in the right direction and get back to being a championship-caliber team every year.’
And, judging by Henry’s comments, the messages of encouragement weren’t hard for the owner to muster.
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