Ex-Red Sox Dustin Pedroia Credits ‘Best Manager’ Terry Francona

Ex-Red Sox Dustin Pedroia Credits ‘Best Manager’ Terry Francona
Ex-Red Sox Dustin Pedroia Credits ‘Best Manager’ Terry Francona

Ex-Red Sox Dustin Pedroia Credits ‘Best Manager’ Terry Francona

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Red Sox great Dustin Pedroia played for several managers during his time in Boston, but only one stood out from the rest: Terry Francona.

Still at the helm, but in Cleveland with the Guardians, Francona was beloved during his eight-year stint with the Red Sox. He led the team that broke Boston’s 86-year World Series curse in 2004. Proved it wasn’t a fluke in 2007. Plus, Francona wasn’t afraid to embrace the many inner-club house personalities that made Boston a unique culture unlike other teams.

In Pedroia’s case, Francona is regarded highly amid retirement plans, for standing by the undersized infielder during what was an ice-cold start to 2007, individually.

“Anybody can manage David Ortiz in his prime or Manny Ramirez in his prime or even me in my prime,” Pedroia told WEEI’s Rob Bradford on Audacy’s “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast. “You just put them in the lineup and press play. But when a guy’s a rookie and he’s struggling and he’s not proven in one of the biggest markets in baseball, the biggest fanbase in baseball, the pressure to win, the pressure to everything, and for him to treat me the way he did, it just shows that not only is he the best manager, he’s one of the best people, too. I owe him everything.”

Before Pedroia was named Rookie of the Year in 2007, it was a rocky uphill climb in the batter’s box that nearly turned the Fenway Park crowd against the former Boston second baseman.

In the first 20 games of the ’07 campaign, Pedroia batted just .182, going 10-for-55 with three doubles, two RBIs and 13 total bases. Yet, Francona never panicked and instead stuck with Pedroia as the go-to man and that decision paid off with a season-altering month-to-month transition from April to May.

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In May, Pedroia became a household name, hitting .415 for the month with six doubles, two home runs and recording a .600 slugging percentage. By the end of the season, Pedroia hit .317, silencing the critics that challenged him for his size and unconventional (but effective) upper-cut swing — a product of Francona’s patience.

Since departing Boston in 2011, Francona led Cleveland to Game 7 of the World Series in 2016, assembling an ongoing reputation as one of the most respected skippers in the history of Major League Baseball.

“The way he operates in the clubhouse. The way he keeps everybody relaxed,” Pedroia explained. “There are times to mess around, there are times to focus. The way they run spring training. The way he takes care of his everyday guys and the way they don’t get tired. It works.”

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Ex-Red Sox Dustin Pedroia Credits ‘Best Manager’ Terry Francona

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