Dustin Pedroia on M&M: Jose Iglesias ‘going to be one of the best real soon’
|07.09.13 at 3:47 pm ET|
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday, as the Sox prepare to continue their series against the Mariners in Seattle.
Despite losing three straight on this West Coast road trip, the Sox still have the best record in the American League. Pedroia acknowledged that part of the reason is the close-knit clubhouse, as the players brought in last offseason have helped form “a pretty special group.”
Said Pedroia: “They’ve been great, all of them. They’ve definitely taken the pressure off me and David [Ortiz] on doing some of the other things. We can just concentrate on playing the game and doing our thing on the field, because you know once we step into that clubhouse or we’re going out to dinner or whatever, it meshes together, the same personality. [Ryan] Dempster, he’s classic. Jonny Gomes, I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody like him. Mike Napoli‘s been a great fit. [Shane] Victorino‘s been unbelievable.
“Some of the guys we’ve brought in, right when they walked in the door in spring training, it seemed like it was all together then. It’s been a blast.”
The team has jelled under new manager John Farrell, who has avoided the controversies and drama of last season.
“John has been great. The coaching staff has been great. But the bottom is we’ve played better,” Pedroia said. “We’ve pitched a lot better, we’ve swung the bats well, we’ve run the bases really well, we’ve been aggressive. All those things we didn’t do last year. It’s not to say anything bad about Bobby [Valentine] or the staff from last year, but we’ve played better baseball. And that’s basically the way I think about it.
“John’s been unbelievable at communicating. Just his presence, too — it’s calm, it’s understanding the process of 162 games. It’s just fun. We’ve got a long way to go. We want to finish strong going into the All-Star break. I know we’ve lost a couple in a row here. We’ve got to get back on track tonight.”
Pedroia suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb sliding into first base on Opening Day, but he played through the pain and is healthy now.
“The first couple of weeks of it was pretty difficult,” he said. “It was my bottom hand, it was tough to follow through and stuff like that. But you find ways to adjust. I switched like a bat model, smaller handle, bigger, I’ll switch every now and then. You’ve just got to find ways to get through it. Now it feels a lot better. I got through it.”
The injury was revealed when owner John Henry shared the information with the media. Pedroia said he was not happy about the publicity.
“Yeah, I was a little upset about that,” he said. “I didn’t think there was a reason to release information about a guy’s injury history. I didn’t want that to happen. So, I was a little upset about that. But things happen. I’ll get over it.”
Jose Iglesias continues to play well in his second stint with the major league club this season, batting close to .400. Looking at Iglesias’ improvement since last year, Pedroia said the infielder has made the commitment, and it’s paying off.
“He’s more confident,” Pedroia said. “Just the way he talks, the way he’s walking out to stretch. He’s real confident in his game right now. He was always confident with his glove, but now he’s talking about hitting all the time. He wants to get better. And he’s one of those guys that listens to everything. He wants to learn.”
Added Pedroia: “He’s becoming a better baseball player and understanding situations on the fly. He’s getting to a point where he’s going to be one of the best real soon.”
John Lackey has had a dramatic turnaround this year, routinely delivering quality starts after struggling with injuries and inconsistency his first two years in Boston before missing last season due to Tommy John surgery.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Pedroia said: “That’s the thing. It wasn’t just hard for John, but a lot of the guys. I faced Lack a bunch of times when he was in Anaheim, and I know from facing him, he was one of the guys that I least liked to face. Seeing him over here his first couple of years, I knew he was hurt and he was pitching through that. And he wouldn’t let anybody in the world know.
“Now that he’s healthy, he had Tommy John, he’s coming back, that’s him. That’s the guy that I faced probably 40 times [actually 30 plate appearances]. He’s tough, he’s relentless. That mound presence that he brings, it’s kind of, ‘I’m here to stick it to you.’ It’s fun to watch. He’s helped out all the young guys that have come up. Felix [Doubront] has been great, too, Demp, we’ve got to get Buch [Clay Buchholz] back healthy. Our pitching staff’s been unbelievable this year. Lack’s a huge reason.”
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