Dustin Pedroia (15) will take the leadership mantle from David Ortiz (right). (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

Dustin Pedroia becomes longest-tenured Red Sox player after saying goodbye to David Ortiz

John Tomase
October 10, 2016 - 8:09 pm

This is Dustin Pedroia's team now. The Red Sox second baseman officially became the team's longest-tenured member after Monday's 4-3 season-ending loss to the Indians sent veteran slugger David Ortiz into retirement. Pedroia debuted in 2006, two years after being drafted out of Arizona State in the second round. He earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2007 en route to his first World Series title, and then won an MVP award in 2008. He was the youngest member of veteran teams at the time, but now the 33-year-old takes the mantle of leadership from Ortiz. "It's a little different," he admitted. "Obviously it hasn't sunk in that David won't be around. But you know, it's tough. . . . I mean, your mind tells you he'll be here when the game ends and be here tomorrow. It's got to end some way. But this is definitely not how we expected it to. It's going to be tough not having him around." Pedroia had no explanation for baseball's best offense getting shut down in the American League Division Series. "We just couldn't find our rhythm," he said. "We couldn't string consecutive hits or at-bats or anything. And to be honest with you, it's more a credit to them. I mean, they were on the corners with good stuff. I mean, they pitched good. They played great. Sometimes, as frustrating as it is, you have to tip your cap. That's why they're moving on." Pedroia believed the Indians played near-perfect baseball in completing the sweep. "It's surprising, but they're good, too," he said. "It's not what we expected to happen, but they played great. They played great. They played flawless, man. There wasn't one part of their game that was off. They were on, and that's why they're winning, moving on." Pedroia couldn't call the season a disappointment, not after the Red Sox went worst-to-first and won the American League East. "I mean, everybody looks at it different," he said. "We made a ton of steps forward. Obviously our goal is to win the World Series, and we didn't do that. But I'm proud of every guy in here. I'm sure nobody in this room can sit back and say they could've done something different. We played as hard as we could. They just played better than us." And now the Red Sox move on to the next chapter, without Ortiz. Pedroia will have to fill that void. "We made a ton of steps," he said. "We're in good shape. I think, especially what David did leadership-wise with a ton of guys, you know, he's leaving us in good shape. We'll be all right."

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