'True Red Sox': Pedroia retires after 14 years

'I'm most proud of the environment and culture we all helped build'

February 1st, 2021

's exceptional performance and boundless energy cemented his place as a Red Sox icon. As the longtime second baseman announced his retirement on Monday, he proudly said that he never took a play off -- precisely the quality that endeared him to a generation of New Englanders.

A four-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Pedroia spent all 14 of his big league seasons with Boston, earning three World Series rings. Pedroia won the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year Award, the ‘08 AL Most Valuable Player Award and the ‘13 MLB Players Alumni Association's Heart and Hustle Award.

"The Boston Red Sox, to me, it means everything," Pedroia said. "I started my family there; my kids were born in Boston. Every day I woke up and looked to find a way to help our team win a baseball game, and I got to do it in front of the best fans in the best city."

Drafted by the Red Sox in the second round in 2004, Pedroia played 1,512 games from 2006-19. The 37-year-old Pedroia finished his career with a .299 batting average, 1,805 hits, 140 home runs, 138 stolen bases, 725 RBIs and 922 runs.

"I can say so much about Dustin," said Red Sox legend David Ortiz. "It got to the point while I played that I asked myself one day who would be a player that you would buy a ticket to see because it was worth it to watch him play for nine innings? And my answer was Dustin Pedroia."

Revered for his confidence and swagger, Pedroia had not played since 2019 due to a left knee injury sustained two seasons prior. He has undergone four surgeries since, revealing on Monday that he received a partial knee replacement in December that effectively ended his hopes of returning to the field.

"Last January, going into 2020, I was still working out and still trying to get ready to come back and play," Pedroia said. "I woke up one morning and my knee was huge. I went and saw the doctors, and everything looked like an explosion went off in there. … I grinded every day just to be able to play with my kids and to live a normal life.

"I can't run anymore, which is fine. I don't need to run. I'm proud of the way that the trainers helped me, doctors, everybody. But it wasn't physically possible for me to continue to play baseball with a partial knee replacement. Once I got that done, I knew. The team has been great at leading me in the right direction on things to do and how to get better. I'm only 37 years old. I've got a long way to go."

The 5-foot-9 Pedroia played the second-most games at second base in franchise history, behind only Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr. Pedroia's 11 consecutive Opening Day starts at second from 2007-17 marks the second-longest streak in Red Sox history at any position, behind only Carl Yastrzemski's 12 straight in left field from 1961-72.

Pedroia also ranks in the top 10 in Red Sox franchise history in hits (eighth), doubles (sixth), runs scored (10th), stolen bases (sixth), extra-base hits (eighth), total bases (eighth) and at-bats (ninth).

"Dustin came to represent the kind of grit, passion and competitive drive that resonates with baseball fans everywhere, and especially with Red Sox fans," Red Sox owner John Henry said. "He played the game he loves in service to our club, its principles and in pursuit of championships. Most of all, we are forever grateful to him for what he brought to our club and to our region as an important role model showing all of us how much one can accomplish with determination and hard work."

The Red Sox played 51 postseason games from 2007-17, and Pedroia was their starting second baseman for all of them. That makes him one of only three second basemen to start 50 straight playoff games for one team, along with the Braves' Mark Lemke and the Yankees' Robinson Canó.

"I'm most proud of the environment and culture we all helped build," Pedroia said. "The expectations -- I know that the fan base demands a lot. But as a player, you want to hold each other accountable that every year. Your goal is to win the World Series. There wasn't a single season that I showed up to Fort Myers [Fla.] that I didn't think our team could win the World Series."

As a rookie in 2007, Pedroia sparked the Sox to their World Series sweep of the Rockies when he led off Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Fenway Park with a home run. Pedroia is the only rookie in MLB history with a leadoff home run in the World Series. Six years later, he led Boston to its third title in a decade, as the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in the '13 World Series.

"As a competitor, no one stands quite as tall as Pedroia," former teammate Jason Varitek said. "He may be short in stature, but he's tall in presence. He not only worked his way to the player that he is, but had a heart of a lion to get it done. Dustin Pedroia truly exemplifies what it means to wear the uniform of the Boston Red Sox. He is a true Red Sox and always will be."

Pedroia said that he plans to remain around baseball and the Red Sox in some fashion, but his immediate focus will be on being home, where he hopes to provide his family with the same type of upbringing that he enjoyed.

"Right now, I just want to enjoy being a dad, not worrying about rehab or what game we're playing," Pedroia said. "I just want to be normal for a little bit. But when that time comes, I'll be 100 percent into whatever I choose to do."