Pedroia backs up winter words by belting two homers
Dustin Pedroia promised back in January that his power was back, and he was ready to start doing the type of damage that he did between 2008-11. By Monday afternoon, a lot of people started to believe him.
The Red Sox's fiery second baseman homered not once, but twice in Monday's 8-0 rout over the Phillies on Opening Day.
The first homer came on his first swing of the season, as he roped a 94-mph heater from Cole Hamels over the wall in left.
"Just trying to have a good at-bat," Pedroia said. "Obviously Cole's one of the best pitchers in the game. Just trying to get a pitch I could handle. I did. So it was nice to get off to that start and let everybody take a deep breath."
Playing with a variety of hand injuries sapped Pedroia of his power the past couple of years, when he hit nine and seven homers, respectively.
"Sometimes you get hurt and try to find a way to play through it," said Pedroia, "but sometimes you get healthy, too. That's the way I look at it. I grinded a lot last year and last couple of years. I'm back to being who I am."
When Pedroia is right, he is an MVP-caliber player. In fact, he won the American League MVP Award in 2008.
Pedroia's defense and leadership remained as impactful as ever the last couple of years, but when he adds the power, he becomes an elite player.
When Pedroia arrived at a community event in January, he didn't sound like a man making hollow promises when he said he would hit for power again. Instead, it sounded more like a matter-of-fact statement.
A few months later, his words seemed prophetic.
"I'm not trying to prove anything to anybody," Pedroia said. "The only thing I'm trying to prove is to my teammates, and that I'm here, and I'm going to help them win games. I could care less what everybody else says. So I'm going to show up and if my name's in the lineup, which it probably will be, I'm going to try and help us win."
Pedroia became the first Red Sox player since Carlton Fisk in 1973 to hit two home runs on Opening Day. Later in the game, Hanley Ramirez joined Pedroia with a two-homer day.
"Like I say, he's one of the best," Ramirez said. "That's why he's been here for a long time. When [you] see a guy like him who is all in on everything, you've got to go."