For a team that came into spring training with very few storylines and virtually zero competitions for starting jobs, this story was the one that deserved more play than it actually got. Dustin Pedroia, who played in three games last year after undergoing cartilage restoration surgery on his left knee, will not be starting the 2019 season with the big club. Instead, he’ll play in a handful of games in Arizona before heading back to Florida to resume his preparation for the season in extended spring training, while the Red Sox jet off to Seattle to begin their title defense on March 28.
Now, before you roll your eyes and say “here we go again,” there were no setbacks. Pedroia’s official stance is that he feels that he’d be ready for Opening Day. Still, the Red Sox are choosing to be cautious with the 35-year-old second baseman, because, well — what’s the rush? If he’s not 100% ready to go in their eyes, then the Red Sox have the luxury of giving him all the time that he needs with guys like Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez in the fold. No disrespect to Pedroia, but this team rolled to a 108-win regular season and a dominant run through the postseason to capture a World Series title, all without him.
With him? At 100% health? With something to prove? All while he’s not being depended upon the way that he has been in the past now that he’ll be slotted down lower in the batting order? One might assume that Pedroia could emerge as one hell of an X-factor for the Red Sox offense. The caveat here, obviously, is health. But if you’ve watched Pedroia over the course of his now 14-year major league career, then health has always been a caveat to his performance. This year will be no different.
I’m sure there are plenty of fans who will remain skeptical of Pedroia’s potential contributions to this 2019 team, but I’ve watched just about every inning of his major league career. That means that I know better than to doubt him.