Pedroia Is A Real Mover (Boston Globe)

March 23, 2005

By Chris Snow, Boston Globe

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- When Terry Francona looks at 5-foot-8-inch Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox' top pick in the 2004 draft, he sees David Eckstein, the St. Louis shortstop and former Sox prospect.

'Kind of an overachieving-type guy,' Francona said. 'He may not profile in some scouts' minds as the typical high pick. I think he's a winning baseball player. That's what we're hoping for.'

Pedroia, who appeared in 20 games last season at Single A Sarasota, played all nine innings against the Dodgers yesterday. In front of his mother, Debbie, and father, Guy, who flew in from Sacramento, Pedroia went 2 for 3 with an RBI double and a walk. His second-inning base hit nearly took off Derek Lowe's head.

'It was fun to watch him play,' Francona said.

But the real significance was not in how Pedroia played but where. A shortstop by trade, Pedroia played second base, a place he'd been only about 10 times in his life, all during his freshman year at Arizona State.

In meetings with Sox executives the last few days, Pedroia said, he was told he'd play second base in Double A Portland, where Hanley Ramirez will begin the season at shortstop.

'He's going to play a lot of second base at Portland this year, but we're not taking shortstop away from him,' general manager Theo Epstein said. 'We're excited about Dustin's rapid adjustment from college to pro ball. Defensively, he has tremendous hands, instincts, and consistency. Offensively, he has remarkable hand-eye coordination and more pop than his frame may indicate.'

Pedroia, 21, said he'll welcome the position change.

'I'm grateful for how this organization took a chance on me taking me with their first pick,' he said. 'It makes it even more exciting going to the park every day when you're learning a new position.

'Hanley is an unbelievable player. I look forward to learning some things from him and hopefully he can learn something from me.'

Baseball America recently rated Pedroia the Sox' sixth-best prospect.