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Dustin Pedroia on D&C: ‘We’ve got to win everybody’s trust and respect back’

02.13.13 at 9:24 am ET

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia spoke with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning at Red Sox spring training about the low expectations for the team entering the season, his experience with new manager John Farrell, and ownership reportedly calling him a “sexy” player who appeals to fans in former manager Terry Francona‘s recently released book.

“I started laughing,” Pedroia said of being called “sexy.” “I thought they hired my wife.”

Pedroia said he thinks pessimistic preseason predictions of the Sox will allow them to play an underdog role they haven’t had in a while.

“I like being the underdog,” he said. “I think our team will enjoy that, too. It’s going to be fun not having to worry about expectations or things like that — just worry about, we’re going to try to prove everybody wrong, and that’s pretty cool.”

On the topic of Farrell, Pedroia said his straightforward nature is a change from that of former manager Bobby Valentine.

“If you have a question about something with John, I would just ask him, ‘What do you think, where do you want me to play here?’ And he would give me a direct answer,” Pedroia said. “There was nothing more to it. You appreciate that because in our game there are so many situations that go on throughout the course of the year — you’re looking for something to do, you’re looking for an idea or anything, advice if you’re struggling, and you appreciate it.”

Pedroia also dismissed the idea that players like Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino were brought in this offseason more for their reputation as character guys than for their talent.

“The guys that we brought in, it’s not like they’re just class clowns and coming to hang out,” he said. “Those guys can play.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On what has to happen for the Sox to succeed: “Obviously, health is a big deal. Every team that is successful and never hits those bumps in the road and is always consistent, health has a factor in that. But I think guys stepping up — look at us in 2007. I don’t think anybody thought [Hideki] Okajima would do what he did in the bullpen. Nobody thought I would play the way I did. So it’s guys that step up and fill roles, and that’s what makes certain teams special.”

On the “toxic” relationship between the players and Valentine: “I never looked at it like that. Listen, we didn’t play well all year. Bobby wasn’t the cause of that, in my opinion. A manager will never, in my opinion, mess up the whole team or anything. It’s the players that do that. It’s our responsibility to go out there and play good, and we didn’t. I’m not going to throw Bobby under the bus or anything like that. I had some things that I disagreed with him early in the year, but he didn’t lose any games for us, that’s for sure. That was us.”

On what he expects to be Farrell’s message to the team: “He doesn’t have to get any message across to a lot of the guys. We understand that we need to fix this, man. We’re going to do everything we can to win back over everybody because we feel like nothing’s behind us yet and we’ve got to win everybody’s trust and respect back.”

On whether his place in the batting order matters to him: “No. I’ll drive in a lot of runs from the nine-hole, though. Honestly, though, if John came up to me today and said we want to hit [Jacoby Ellsbury] third and you have to hit leadoff, I’d say, ‘OK, man. Whatever you need.’ [When I hit cleanup] it was a little different — we had a bunch of injuries, though. I knew I wasn’t going to be continue to be a cleanup hitter, which I should have been. Tito, man. He’s not too bright, is he?”

On the pitching staff’s strength: “Our bullpen, we have a lot of great arms. I think that’s very exciting. But I think starting pitching is the key because our guys have the ability to be really, really good. [Jon] Lester, [Clay Buchholz], [John] Lackey, Jesus, he looks great, man, he looks shredded. He’s very motivated to make this right. And [RyanDempster‘s going to help out Buch and Lester and everybody because just the way he goes about it, his presence, it’s pretty cool. And Felix [Doubront], we’ve got a lot of good arms.”

On a disconnect from the fans at the end of last year: “Well, yeah, we weren’t winning as much. But I’d never experienced that, really. Even in 2011 when September was tough, they were behind us, because we were struggling and we needed a boost of energy. But last year it seemed like we couldn’t get anything going and it was one thing after another, and I learned from that. There’s always going to be people that, ‘Hey, you’re my favorite player,’ and there’s going to be people that, ‘You stink, you’re a punk.’ I understand that. That’s why there’s a lot of players in baseball, so you’ve got to like somebody else.”

On what he did during the offseason: “I have [my son] Dylan‘s monitor on my side of the bed and my wife has Cole‘s. My job’s a little harder right now, because my 3-year-old gets up at 3 a.m. and he goes and grabs cupcakes, gets on a chair, they’re above the fridge, he grabs them. ‘€¦ Just being around the family’s the best part.”

Read More: Bobby Valentine, Dustin Pedroia, John Farrell, Terry Francona
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