Despite Injury and Lack of Publicity, Dustin Pedroia Excelling Early

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY| Dustin Pedroia has accomplished many great things throughout his Red Sox career. The veteran infielder has won Rookie of the Year, an MVP, countless Gold Gloves, trips to the All-Star game, and he's helped the team win a championship ring. However, what he's accomplished so far in the 2013 season may be the most impressive. Somehow, in some way, Dustin Pedroia is flying under the radar.

The boisterous player is certainly not known for staying out of the spotlight. From day one of his major league career, Pedroia has been the heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox. He has some of the best sound bites and commercials, all while being the best teammate and role model the Sox have had in this era.

Pedroia has been successful at every level. The 5'8" infielder quickly proved doubters wrong by hitting over .300 at all levels of minor league baseball before making his Red Sox debut in 2006. Pedroia would start off very slowly in 2007, with many calling for him to be sent down. However, the team stuck with him and the rest is history, as Pedroia has been a stalwart at the position since.

Even with all the success and popularity, Pedroia still couldn't get away from doubt, especially after an injury sidelined him for the majority of the 2010 season. However, he seemed to get back in the groove the following year, finishing in the Top-10 in the MVP voting. Of course most of the positive news from 2011 gets forgotten due to Boston's extraordinary collapse that ended the season.

That disappointing finish of course flowed all the way until the beginning of 2013, seemingly making even the most ardent supporter of Red Sox baseball lose faith. As expected, Pedroia was very respectable, hitting .290 with 15 HRs and 81 runs scored. But all anyone remembered were his harsh comments to the press regarding his manager at the time (Bobby Valentine) and a team that was underperforming to the max.

Flash-forward to this April and it's been a complete whirlwind of change. As of this writing the Red Sox sit in first place. While the start of this year has been a completely different story, somehow Pedroia has steered clear of most of the attention.

It's unquestionably not for performance reasons. Pedroia has gotten off to an exceptional start. He is hitting .332 (team best) with three HRs and 29 RBIs. He is also getting on base consistently (.419 OBP) and leads the team with 37 runs scored. He's even second only to Jacoby Ellsbury in steals (eight so far). Pedroia has also been his usual self in the field, with a perfect fielding percentage nearly two months into the season.

Pedroia is on pace for another All-Star selection, a possible Gold Glove, and quite possibly MVP consideration. Quite a year for a player who hasn't shared in the publicity. And quite impressive considering he's been playing through injury.

So, what is it about this season that has put the spotlight elsewhere? Well, for one thing the biggest story is the return of decent starting pitching. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey are all on pace for outstanding seasons, something the Red Sox desperately needed heading into 2013. Boston also has sluggers back in the lineup. Mike Napoli has been a nice addition, and a healthy David Ortiz continues to stay effective. The bullpen has handled adversity very well. Losing numerous pitchers to injuries hasn't derailed a crew that has bailed the club out when needed.

In fact it's almost a compliment that Pedroia isn't receiving his usual fanfare. Fans and media alike seem to just expect the second baseman to put up the numbers, dive all over the field, and bring his genuine charm to the park every single day.

Dustin Pedroia may be under the radar now, but one thing is certain. When the time comes to be truly noticed, Pedroia will be ready to step back into the spotlight. He's never truly left it.

Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.

You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.

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