Dustin Pedroia: Xander Bogaerts is a player you 'build a team around'

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Pedroia reflects on Ortiz's HOF career, praises Bogaerts' impact originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Dustin Pedroia played with a lot of great players during his Boston Red Sox career, and perhaps none of them were better than David Ortiz.

The longtime Red Sox second baseman recently joined WEEI's Rob Bradford on his podcast, "The Bradfo Sho", to discuss his time playing with Ortiz ahead of the former Red Sox slugger's induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend.

Pedroia and Ortiz played 11 seasons together on the Red Sox from 2006 to 2016. The former Sox second baseman described Big Papi as "larger than life in the clubhouse."

Pedroia continued to compliment Ortiz's role on the team.

"David never got on me," Pedroia said about Ortiz's reaction to him struggling at the plate during his first season in Boston. "He was always great with the young guys. He wanted everyone to feel a part of what we're trying to do and you appreciate that."

Back in 2009, Ortiz was struggling to rebound from his wrist injury, but he finished the season with a .238 batting average with 28 home runs and 99 RBIs. Pedroia emphasized Ortiz's hard work as the reason why he was able to have a strong finish to that campaign.

"The way that he came back and finished that year...For him to grind and do that while he was hurt...when you're hurt and you're showing up to work and mentally you have to figure out a way to help your team win... that's impressive," Pedroia said. "And that's what shows what type of teammate he is. Not only the player. Yeah, he's a Hall of Fame player. But, winner, teammate. Those are the things he brought that you don't see with that caliber of talent and player."

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Pedroia also discussed how the Red Sox were able to rally behind Ortiz's speech during Game 4 of the 2013 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"We were not the best talent-wise, but we were way better than everybody else as a team. That's the most mentally tough team I've ever been on," Pedroia said. "There was nothing that could come to any of those guys. Like, we knew we were going to win. ... David said that at the right time... He made something happen...It was pretty special."

After the speech, Jonny Gomes hit a three-run homer to seal the Red Sox win. The Sox had been down 2-1 in the series, but did not lose another game after Big Papi's speech and eliminated the Cardinals in Game 6.

Similar to Ortiz, Pedroia has certain feelings about the state of the current Red Sox. Ortiz has been vocal that the Sox should re-sign Xander Bogaerts. Pedroia agrees.

"I could always tell," Pedroia said when asked about Bogaerts' performance in 2013. "The way he acted when he walked in the clubhouse. Just the way we threw him in the fire. He was different, and he still is. Nothing bothers him. Always a good at-bat. Always under control. We knew once we threw him in there in the playoffs, he would be fine."

Dustin Pedroia had a great reaction after watching Derek Jeter doc

"He's just going to play the game. He's just one of those guys you build a team around. I'm saying that talent-wise and attitude-wise. Just his presence. He's a guy I saw walk in, and I was like, 'Alright, here is the next Red Sox for 15 years.'"

Bogaerts can opt-out of the final three years of his contract following the 2022 season.

With the uncertain future of the Red Sox, it will be refreshing to look back at the career of a Boston legend, Ortiz, over the weekend as he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York on Sunday.