Pedroia leads Sox into post-Big Papi era

Veteran 2B in camp three days early, raring to go

Pedroia leads Sox into post-Big Papi era

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In this brave new world the Red Sox are entering without David Ortiz, they are fortunate to have Dustin Pedroia to lead them.

There is a big size difference in the longest-tenured Red Sox player now that Big Papi is retired, but nobody is as equipped to fill those shoes as Pedroia.

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There the second baseman was on Monday morning, stationed in front of his locker and ready to get to work three days before position players were even due into camp.

"Pedey has been a leader for a number of years already," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "That won't change."

And part of the beauty of Pedroia's leadership is that he doesn't promote himself as a leader. He just goes out and does it.

"Yeah, I don't look at it any differently than previous years," Pedroia said. "You show up to win every day. That's what we're going to try to do. Obviously the guys know if they need anything they can come to me or anybody. That's what we're going to try to do."

This season marks the 10th anniversary of when Pedroia won the American League's Rookie of the Year Award and his first World Series championship. At 34, Pedroia still has that same enthusiasm he arrived with a decade ago. And he remains one of the best players at his position, coming off a year in which he slashed .318/.376/.449 with 15 homers and 74 RBIs.

"Yeah, I'm really excited to get started," said Pedroia. "We feel like we've got a great team and it's going to be fun."

The tone Pedroia sets is one of hard work and having fun while doing it.

"Nice stretch. You nailed it," Pedroia said playfully to teammate Brock Holt after the morning stretch.

Over the course of a long season, the Red Sox have the ultimate energizer bunny to help get them through it.

"He brings it every day," Red Sox left-hander David Price said of Pedroia. "You guys know how he is as soon as he walks into the clubhouse. He has that fire. He has that passion. He's definitely a very good leader. He's a vocal leader. He can lead by his actions and by his words. Whenever you have a guy like that, that's pretty unique."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.