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Tuesday, 24 June 2014 15:39

Red Sox: Is it time to sit down Dustin Pedroia?

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Dustin Pedroia is hitting .268, well below his usual average as a career .300 hitter. Is it worth it to continue to play him hurt?

Boston Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia is hitting just .265 in 339 plate appearances. A career .300 hitter, Pedroia is having trouble in the batters box in 2014. Could a move to the disabled list, effectively shutting down the thirty year old, be beneficial?

            Pedroia has hit four home runs, and driven in twenty-seven runs this year, but a wrist injury may be bothering the second baseman, reducing his production at the plate. Pedroia, who won the American League Most Valuable Player award and the Silver Slugger award as the best overall hitter in 2008, could potentially use this year to rest and recover, to get physically prepared for 2015.

            I am as big of a fan of Dustin Pedroia as anyone else; his commitment to the Red Sox organization is unparalleled. There are few players in Major League Baseball that come to the park everyday committed to leaving everything on the field. In the 2013 season, Pedroia hurt his hand in the first game of the season. Pedroia started 160 games last year with the injury, and propelled the team into the history books with their victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

            At the same time, the Sox sit over a half dozen games out of the American League East divisional lead, and the team has been mediocre at best. In 2012, when the Red Sox finished the season 26.0 games back of first place, slugger David Ortiz only appeared in a handful games after the All-Star break. Whether the extended disabled list stint was in protest of then Manager Bobby Valentine, or because of the wear-and-tear of being a major league ballplayers at thirty-six, Ortiz came back in 2013 with a very strong campaign despite missing nearly all of April.

            Boston went into the All-Star break with a record of 43-43 in 2012. Currently the Sox sit at 35-43. With Pedroia potentially struggling with a left wrist issue, it could be worth it to have him sit. Even if the Sox can rally and catch the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays, it might be all for nothing if Pedroia hurts himself further.

            Given the rotating door that has been present in the outfield since Spring Training, and the lack of offensive production from the bottom half of the Sox batting card, major changes would need to happen to see the Sox repeat as world champions this October.

            It may be a bit cynical to already consider resting players for next season before the All-Star break; no one has emerged as the clear favourite to win the AL East thus far. Even the Jays, who were able to win twenty of twenty-four games in a period that stretched over May and June, have rescinded from the top of the MLB power rankings, reverting back to .500 baseball since the winning streak. Currently at 7.5 games back of the lead, the Sox are not out of the playoffs. Another outfielder at the trade deadline, and a possible call-up with a consistent bat could be the difference between a wild-card spot and a losing season.

            Despite all of this, it doesn’t change my thoughts. Pedroia has played nearly a full campaign the last three seasons, and his body looks to be wearing down. Some will remember that David Ortiz sat out the end of the 2012 season. Though an unpopular move among fans, Ortiz was able to prepare fully for the 2013 season, where he hit .309, with thirty home runs and 103 RBI, despite only returning to the line-up in late April.

            Pedroia has been an integral part of the Red Sox last three successful seasons in 2007, ’08 and ’13. It would be surprising to see the team thrive without him contributing at the plate. His current production just won’t do if the Red Sox want to play deep into October again. Could it be time for John Farrell to think about sitting down with his second baseman? I think so.