Guest instructor Pedroia brings 'unreal' energy to Red Sox camp

February 18th, 2023

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox didn’t need any coffee at the Fenway South complex on Saturday morning. Human caffeine walked into the building at about 6:30 a.m. in the form of Dustin Pedroia.

Boston’s former star second baseman was full of vim and vigor in his first visit to Spring Training since he was an active player four years ago.

Anyone within earshot of Pedroia could hear his enthusiasm at the start of what will be a three-day stint as a guest instructor at Red Sox camp.

“The energy Pedroia still has, it’s unreal,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “I’ve never seen anything like that. We’re going to make a conscious effort to have him around as much as possible [in the future].”

Pedroia’s visit to camp was at the request of Cora. The two men have shared a close friendship ever since 2007, when Pedroia was a struggling rookie and Cora was a supportive utility player/mentor. Thanks in large part to Cora’s support, Pedroia won the American League Rookie of the Year Award that season.

“Obviously, I'll do anything for Alex,” said Pedroia. “You know, what he meant to me and my career, the way he helped me and the things he taught me. If he asks, I’m there.”

Believe it or not, Pedroia’s time is limited, even in retirement. His job in Arizona is husband/dad/coach. And much like he was as a player, he is all in on those duties.

“This is actually the only weekend I had open [during Spring Training],” Pedroia said. “The boys have sports tournaments and all kinds of stuff. But this is fun to be here and see some of the guys and to see everybody.”

Given his passion for baseball and his loyalty to the Red Sox, it isn’t hard to imagine Pedroia one day returning to the organization in a role more substantial than temporary instructor.

But don’t expect that to happen until his kids are out of the house. That won’t be for a while. Dylan is 13 -- the only non-baseball player of the group. He plays basketball. Cole is 10 and Brooks is eight.

Pedroia and his children, Dylan, Brooks and Cole, at Red Sox camp in Fort Myers

Pedroia coaches the two younger boys on separate travel-ball squads.

“We’ve got practice three days a week and then we play on the weekends, so it's full time,” Pedroia said. “It's fun. But you’re teaching them baseball and life lessons. It's not as serious as this. I'm trying to get them to not throw helmets and things like that. They’re good kids and it's fun.”

While Pedroia is the guest instructor in Fort Myers this weekend, he brings instructors like Jacoby Ellsbury and J.J. Hardy to help out with his teams.

Is Pedroia the lead coach on his teams or an assistant?

“What do you think, I’m the assistant? I answer to no one. Nobody,” quipped Pedroia, who noted that the young kids are playing with Major League rules rather than Little League regulations.

“You see that little guy out there?” He said, pointing to Brooks. “He’s 50 pounds, he plays with big league rules. They take leads and they call balks.”

Pedroia keeps close tabs on his former team during baseball season.

“That's the good thing about the West Coast, you know. 4 o’clock, the games are on,” Pedroia said. “The kids get home from school and are doing homework, and it’s like, ‘All right, the Red Sox are on.' I follow everything.”

When the Red Sox took the field on Saturday morning, Pedroia was wearing a blue pullover and baseball pants. He stood on the second-base bag and took throws from Justin Turner, Rafael Devers, Bobby Dalbec, Triston Casas and others. He walked around with a bucket between drills.

During batting practice, he stood behind the cage with general manager Brian O’Halloran and shortstop Kiké Hernández talking shop.

Pedroia talks with Red Sox GM Brian O'Halloran

The severe left knee ailments that robbed Pedroia of, in his mind, four to five seasons, could still be seen as he walked slowly around the complex. And that slow walk represented something to Cora.

“He led by example,” said Cora. “And there’s a reason he’s limping around, because he gave everything for this franchise.”

Pedroia will continue to give to the franchise in retirement, a process that will be gradual, starting with this weekend.

“Whatever they need me to do, obviously, I'm here for them,” said Pedroia.