Media Frenzy Follows Pedroia In Arizona Fall League

Nov. 7, 2004

Former Arizona State All-American shortstop Dustin Pedroia is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League with the Scottsdale Scorpions. After a stellar three-year career at ASU where he was a three-time All-Pac-10 selection, Pedroia was selected in the second round of the 2004 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. In his first professional season, Pedroia played 42 games split between the Augusta Greenjackets (South Atlantic League) and the Sarasota Red Sox (Florida State League). He combined to hit .357 (56-for-157) with 13 doubles, three home runs and 19 RBI. He did not make an error in his 42 starts at shortstop. Pedroia was featured in Sunday's (Nov. 7) Arizona Republic and on

Pedroia is handling AFL just like a pro

By Mark Gonzales
The Arizona Republic

Taking batting practice last month at Fenway Park was the closest thing to reaching the majors for Dustin Pedroia, who is taking big strides toward playing in Boston.

As a late addition to the Arizona Fall League as a taxi squad player, Pedroia continues to maximize his opportunity by hitting well. With a premium placed on slick-fielding middle infielders, Pedroia has made himself even more attractive by impressing with his glove.

His success is a continuation of his career achievements at Arizona State, which included a .384 batting average and slugging 34 doubles in 2003 - a Pac-10 Conference and school record.

'I wanted to make sure I proved myself and make sure the Red Sox know their first pick (in the second round) was a good player and a gamer,' Pedroia said. 'I want to keep it up, play hard, win games, have fun and everything will take care of itself.'

Pedroia has been targeted as a fast-track player, with three years of high-level college experience. His smooth transition to professional ball has been remarkable, considering he started workouts for his 2003 college season last January and couldn't take an extended break after completing his ASU season because he needed to stay in shape while negotiating a signing bonus with the Red Sox.

'It's been a long season,' said Pedroia, who had planned to return to his native Northern California to work out this winter had he not been added to the Scottsdale roster. 'But I've maintained my workouts and lifted weights in September to get my body back in shape.'

Pedroia also fulfilled a dream of sorts on Sept. 20 when he was invited to Boston while the Red Sox were in the midst of securing an American League wild-card berth.

'That was fun,' Pedroia said. 'I got a chance to meet the team and take bating practice. Everyone was great to me, and they deserve everything that's coming to them.'

Pedroia took ground balls with versatile veteran infielder Pokey Reese. Orlando Cabrera, who was acquired in a four-team trade on July 31, wasn't present because his wife was sick. Pedroia didn't get a chance to visit with Curt Schilling because Schilling was pitching that night, but the two had met.

Despite his 5-foot-8 height, Pedroia continues to defy any skeptics who believe he is too small to play shortstop. He wasn't charged with any errors in 30 games for Class A Sarasota and in 12 games at Class A Augusta last summer.

'It doesn't matter. I can play short, second or third as long as I'm on the field,' said Pedroia, who batted a combined .357 with 13 doubles and three home runs in 42 games with Augusta and Sarasota. 'They (the Red Sox) haven't said anything. I'll go into spring training as a shortstop, and whatever they tell me is fine.'

Pedroia's transition to professional ball was seamless despite adjusting from aluminum to wood bats, from playing three or four days a week to virtually every day, and playing on bumpy fields.

'It was different,' Pedroia admitted. 'It was the first time I was back East for a long amount of time. It took awhile for me to get used to it, but I learned that baseball is baseball, no matter where it is.

'It's all mental toughness, and it goes back to (ASU coach) Pat Murphy getting me prepared for the next level. . . . He makes sure you're focused for all nine innings and locked in for three to four hours.'

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Pedroia proves naysayers wrong

By Jonathan Mayo

PHOENIX -- In professional sports, image is almost everything.Baseball scouts are always looking for the 'toolsy' players who fit a 6-foot, 200-pound mold.

Red Sox shortstop prospect Dustin Pedroia is not such a player. Despite starring at Arizona State University, Pedroia went undrafted in the first round. Now in the Arizona Fall League, Pedroia is hoping to continue to prove those naysayers wrong.

'I'm not much of a prospect,' Pedroia said. 'I'm a baseball player. I do other things to make up for my size. I'm just out here to help my team win. Whatever they ask me to do, I'm ready to do it for them.'

That's exactly the kind of player the Red Sox were hoping they were getting when they took Pedroia with their first pick, in the second round, of last June's First-Year Player Draft. It may seem somewhat surprising Pedroia lasted until then when looking at his stats his final season with the Sun Devils: .393 batting average, a .502 on-base percentage and a .611 slugging percentage. But it's another stat line that truly explains his draft position: 5-foot-9, 180 pounds. It's a stigma Pedroia has had to overcome throughout his career.

'I don't think about what other people say,' Pedroia said. 'The only thing I care about is what my teammates say and how they feel about me. They know that when the game starts, I'm on their side.'

His teammates with Augusta in the low Class A South Atlantic League during his pro debut learned that quickly. In 12 games, Pedroia hit .400 before getting promoted to Sarasota for the final month of the season. He hit .336 over 30 games, officially putting himself on the fast track and earning a trip to the elite AFL.

'I didn't think it would happen this fast,' Pedroia said. 'I knew going into the [last] ASU year that I was ready to play, and ready to play pro ball. I was just going to go out to play hard and let things happen.'

While things have been happening fast, it's been a long year for Pedroia. His first game with ASU was Jan. 15 and he's barely had time to come up for air since. Pedroia doesn't seem to mind, though, especially because the AFL invite meant he could spend some bonus time with his old schoolmates.

'It's been great,' Pedroia said. Every off-chance I get, I go back to ASU and hang out with the guys I played with and the coaching staff.'

The learning experience hasn't been bad, either. Pedroia is on the taxi squad, meaning he plays only Wednesdays and Saturdays. Even though it's been an adjustment after playing every day for so long, Pedroia has been getting quite an education from the bench.

'Every day, when I'm not playing, I'm watching somebody, trying to see what he does, trying to make my game better any way I can,' Pedroia said. 'I've never sat on the bench my whole life; I've learned from some of the guys that coach me that you have to watch the game to get better, too. I've been doing that since I got here.'

Pedroia never won a World Series as a Sun Devil, but he now finds himself part of an organization that just won its first championship in 86 years. Pedroia definitely notices a difference about how the Red Sox are perceived and how it seems like Red Sox Nation has gotten an influx of immigrants in recent weeks.

'It's been great since they won the World Series,' Pedroia said. 'There are a lot more Red Sox fans. I don't know if they're jumping on the bandwagon, but it's special what those guys did. It's just unbelievable to be a part of this organization and hopefully someday I'll get there soon.'

When that day comes remains to be seen. Obviously, the Sox drafted Pedroia with the thought he could get to Fenway Park sooner rather than later. No one is itching to get there faster than Pedroia himself.

'I'm just playing my game,' Pedroia said. 'They know I'm ready to play right now. They feel that maybe I could do it right now. Hopefully things will just take care of themselves.'

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