BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia’s two-year battle to get his left knee healthy enough to play regularly has reached the point where there are no guarantees he’ll ever be able to suit up for the Red Sox again.
Pedroia announced on Monday he’s taking an indefinite break from the rigors of rehab and playing baseball so he can evaluate where he’s at.
Accompanied at a Monday afternoon news conference with Boston manager Alex Cora and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Pedroia was asked if he thought he would be able to play again.
“I’m not sure,” said Pedroia. “I think that's the part of the [down] time right now is figuring that out. I've been lucky to be with this organization and to deal with the people in our training room and our doctors and we have the best manager, coaching staff, front office and they've been leading me in the right direction the whole way. It's unfortunate the type of injury that I had, and I have, so you know I'm just trying to listen to everybody and try to do the right thing."
After undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee following the 2016 season, Pedroia got spiked by Manny Machado in a game at Camden Yards on April 21, 2017. His knee hasn’t been the same since that unfortunate play.
Pedroia gritted through that ’17 season, playing 105 games -- most of them with discomfort. He underwent a major surgery after that season -- a cartilage restoration procedure. While he hoped that surgery would fix most of what ailed him, Pedroia was able to play in just three games during Boston’s World Series-winning season in ‘18.
Things haven’t been much better this season. Pedroia was activated for the ring ceremony and home opener on April 9 but played in just six games before feeling a popping sensation during an at-bat at Yankee Stadium.
The 35-year-old attempted two Minor League rehab assignments after that, but they were both cut short due to more discomfort in his knee. This happened most recently on Friday for Double-A Portland. The Red Sox officially recalled him from the assignment on Monday and transferred him to the 60-day injured list.
“The last game I played, the pain was kind of to a point where I had to tell the trainer,” Pedroia said. “I'm like, ‘Listen man, I've gotta come out.’ It was a tough day. I knew I'd have tough days throughout this process. The next day I woke up and it wasn't any better. So it's to a point now where my knee is not allowing me to play every day. It's taken awhile to realize that.
“I've tried so many things, from braces to orthotics to rehab methods to seeing different doctors to every type of treatment possible. So I'm at a point right now where I need some time. That's what my status is."
As for the “R” word -- retirement -- Pedroia said he hasn’t had time to contemplate that type of finality just yet.
“I think the time will go by, and I’ll know more about it,” said Pedroia. “I haven’t had a day off in a long time. Every day I wake up and I do some sort of rehab to do anything. I haven’t even sat down and thought about something like that or anything. I just know that right now I need a break from just the every-day stresses of dealing with what I’m dealing with, and that’s it.”
Pedroia will stay with the team through this weekend’s four-game series at Yankee Stadium and then go home to be with his family in Arizona for a bit.
At this point, Pedroia doesn’t foresee surgery being an option that can prolong his career.
"That's part of the issue. The surgery that's been recommended to me after last season is something that not a lot of people want to go through,” Pedroia said. “It would affect like the quality of my life and things like that. So, no. I'm not thinking about having the surgery."
As fate would have it, the Red Sox started a series against the Indians on Monday, so Pedroia had a chance to visit with one of his closest friends in baseball prior to his press conference -- Cleveland skipper Terry Francona. With Francona managing the Red Sox, Pedroia was the AL’s Rookie of the Year in 2007 and the MVP in ’08.
“I’ve actually been texting with him, but he came over this morning for about a half hour,” Francona said. “We talked for a while. I think he’s in a pretty good place. I mean, I think, I don’t want to speak for him because I don’t like doing that. I think he knows he emptied his tank. Like, he didn’t leave any stone unturned. He probably gave more than you should, and his body is feeling it now. But I don’t think he has any regrets, nor should he.”
Whether or not Pedroia plays again, he will go down as one of the best players in Red Sox history.
In 1,512 games in the Majors, all for Boston, Pedroia has a .299 average and an .805 OPS to go along with 922 runs, 1,805 hits, 140 homers and 138 stolen bases. He is a four-time All-Star and four-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner at second base.
“To me, he’s a Boston legend as a player,” said Dombrowski. “He’s one of the most respected players in the game of baseball since I’ve been in it. What he’s achieved on the field, the way he handles himself on and off the field, what he’s gone through over the last few years, I don’t know if there’s another player I’ve been around in baseball who would give the effort that he’s given to try to get back.
“We’ll see what ends up happening, but it’s a wise decision to step back at this time and worry about Dustin as a person and not the player. He is somebody, talking to ownership and down over the last time period, that Dustin is the type of person we want to be in the Boston Red Sox organization for years to come. He’s a David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez. The list goes on. Dustin Pedroia is the same type of person and player."
Pedroia was a guiding force in Boston’s World Series victories in 2007 and ’13, and was a valuable mentor when he couldn’t play last year.
“I do care about Dustin as a player, but I care most about Dustin the person,” said Cora, who was teammates with Pedroia in Boston from 2006 to ‘08. “We’ve been talking a lot the last few days and I think for him to disconnect from the whole grind for a little bit is the best thing not only for him, but for his family. They deserve that.
“I’m very proud of him. He’s been amazing. Amazing teammate. He’s been very helpful for us as a coaching staff. I’m not saying he’s a coach, but he’s been great the way he sees the game. Regardless of if he was playing or not, he was there for us last year so he’s one of the best. I really love him.”