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After a turbulent offseason, the Boston Red Sox enter the 2013 season with a significant amount of uncertainty at several key positions around the diamond. Will Mike Napoli stay healthy at first base? Will Jose Iglesias ever make it in the big leagues? How will Jonny Gomes handle full-time duties in left field?
However, there are at least two positions that the Sox hope will be rock-solid this year, and provide a solid core for the team moving forward; namely, second and third base. Let’s look first today at 2nd:
We’ll start with one of the rocks of the Red Sox franchise, a player who has been a constant producer and stud in the lineup since 2007: Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia is one of the greatest successes of the recent Red Sox farm system. He was a second round draft pick back in 2004, picked 65th overall as a shortstop, and after a subpar September call-up in 2006, he made the most of his opportunity in 2007 when he locked down the second base job by hitting .317 as a rookie and winning the American League Rookie of the Year.
A hero to short, scrappy players everywhere, Pedroia makes the most of what he has physically, seeming to swing out of his shoes often when attacking the ball at the plate. While his aggressive style would not necessarily be a model for all young players, this relentless energy and hustle have made him both an AL MVP and a fan favorite here in Boston.
Pedey comes into the 2013 season without competition at his position, as it should be for a veteran player of his caliber. He went through some rough stretches last season, being moved around the batting order almost daily by Bobby Valentine and going without any of his usual protection gained from batting ahead of sluggers like David Ortiz, but despite this, Pedroia should be in line for a real bounce-back year in 2013.
Sporting a career average of .303, and averaging 184 hits over the 5 healthy seasons of his career, Pedroia should have the confidence of John Farrell, who in turn should have no qualms about penciling in Pedroia at second base and the #2 spot in the order for the entirety of this season.
He will likely be backed up by utility-man Pedro Ciriaco for most of the season, with Brock Holt standing as an intriguing spring training invitee that will likely start the season in AAA. Holt was acquired as part of the Joel Hanrahan deal with Pittsburgh, and played well in a brief call up last season. He is a shortstop by trade, but so was Pedroia before being converted in the minor leagues, so he could be one to keep an eye on if injury or poor play derails Ciriaco (or Stephen Drew at SS).