Dustin Pedroia: With Varitek Retiring Is He Unofficial Captain of the Red Sox?
After 14 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, catcher Jason Varitek is expected to announce his retirement this coming Thursday. With him, the "C" upon his chest will be retired as well. That will leave just two official captains in Major League Baseball: Derek Jeter and Paul Konerko.
Considering that 28 other ballclubs do not have an official captain, it is highly unlikely to see the Red Sox name a replacement for Varitek, especially under the tutelage of new manager Bobby Valentine.
In baseball, what is a captain really?
By definition alone, a captain is someone who is a leader, in charge of others. An altruistic individual capable of commanding respect of his peers. Varitek embodied that. Frankly, so does Dustin Pedroia.
For those reading this, I must make a quick aside. If you have not done so already, do yourself a favor and pick up Pedroia's book "Born to Play: My Life in the Game" written with Edward J. Delaney. It offers fantastic insight into the mind of Pedroia and his passion for the game.
It is that passion that transcends being just a great second baseman. His passion breeds passion of both the fans and teammates.
In an interview published in today's Boston Globe written by Dan Shaughnessy, Pedroia was asked about the downfall of the 2011 season and his thoughts on what occurred. This is what Pedey had to say:
“The part I was frustrated the most with . . . I pride myself on being the guy who needs to find a way to get us out of it if our team is in trouble or not playing well. There were a couple of games where I was able to do that, but I couldn’t get us back rolling.Elsa/Getty Images
“That bothered me. It still bothers me. I think that’s my biggest job on this team. When times are tough, I need to be the guy that pulls us out of it and makes sure we get back on track so everyone else can take off.
“I wish I went 5 for 5 in some of the games and drove in six runs and carried us. I know that’s really hard to do in this game, but I feel like I can do that. I did do it in a game against the Blue Jays, but it eats at me that I couldn’t stop it.’’
In addition to the quotes given to Shaughnessy, Pedroia is often outspoken, sometimes even brash in the local media and radio stations. He pulls no punches and is direct.
With his teammates, he's a trash talker aimed at getting the team motivated. In a recent interview with WEEI-FM's (and former Red Sox utility man) Lou Merloni, shortstop Mike Aviles talked about how he enjoys Pedroia's trash talk and ability to get the team up for games.
To be a captain, you don't need to necessarily wear a "C" on your chest to prove it. It is in your actions. It is in your leadership. It can be assumed and personified, even coming from a man who stands a mere 5'9" tall weighing 180lbs soaking wet.
The time has come for the outspoken member of the Red Sox to become the unspoken captain full time.
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