Pedroia pushing forward, ready to defend title

Red Sox second baseman not thinking about last year's World Series run at camp

Pedroia pushing forward, ready to defend title

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For Dustin Pedroia, the satisfaction in winning World Series championships does not lead to a more glamorous lifestyle or exotic vacations.

Aside from surgery to repair a left thumb injury that plagued him from Opening Day on last season, this was the extent of the second baseman's offseason.

"It was kind of chilled out. I just went home with the family and worked out and [was] getting ready for next year," said Pedroia. "It's next year."

Yes, it is now "next year" for the defending World Series champion Red Sox. That much was signified when Pedroia walked in the clubhouse door on Sunday morning, two days before the official report date for position players.

If David Ortiz is the player on the Red Sox who stands out with the biggest hits and most gregarious personality, Pedroia is the team's engine -- the one who makes them go.

"Every year is different," said Pedroia. "I'm not thinking anything about last year. I'm worried about today's practice and what we're trying to do and getting ready for the season and keeping that mindset. If we continue to do that, we'll get better every day and form that team that we want."

To form that team they want, the Red Sox might not have to do much more than follow their leader, who has a non-stop work ethic.

There are also no excuses. Playing for all of 2013 with a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, Pedroia hit nine home runs, his lowest total since his rookie season of 2007.

Even now, he doesn't say much about how it might have impacted him.

"Uh, a little bit but it's fine now," said Pedroia. "It's fixed up, man. It's good. It's good to go."

In other words, Pedroia isn't going to start Spring Training in the trainers' room. He'll be out there on the field reminding everyone about the attention to detail it took in 2013 to be the last team standing.

Pedroia's first shot at a repeat with the Red Sox fell just short. His home run in Game 7 of the '08 American League Championship Series gave the Red Sox an early lead, but they couldn't hold it. That season ended with the tying run at the plate.

The sting is something Pedroia remembers well enough to know that he'd rather not feel it again.

"I remember that was a huge letdown," Pedroia said. "Really disappointed, shoot, I think we were four or five innings away, winning in the fourth or fifth. You don't want that feeling. Once you win, you want to stay there and be on top all the time. That just gives us something extra to push for to always stay there."

Listen to Pedroia talk about winning, and it's reminiscent of a player who just announced that this season will be his last: Derek Jeter has won five World Series titles in his career.

Pedroia shares that single-minded focus Jeter has about winning. It never gets old to him.

"Absolutely," Pedroia said. "That's why you play. I love competing and winning as a team. That's the [most enjoyable] part for me, is seeing the look on the guys' faces when we win and stuff like that. That's what makes it special."

The Red Sox will be the team everyone targets this season, and Pedroia wouldn't have it any other way.

"You have the bull's-eye on your back," Pedroia said. "You want to get everybody's best, so I think it's going to be a fun challenge for everybody and it should be exciting."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.