Pedroia, Francona and Media Narratives

The story about Dustin Pedroia and his injured foot is hardly new ground, but yesterday readers were treated to a new bit of information about his timetable for recovery, and the risks he has been running by attempting to play.  In the Boston Globe’s Red Sox notebook yesterday we read the following:

Dr. Lewis Yocum examined the injured Red Sox second baseman yesterday and informed him that the broken medial navicular bone in his left foot will need at least six weeks to heal, not the five weeks Pedroia was hoping for.

“He kind of scared me a little bit,’’ Pedroia said last night before the Sox played the Angels. “There’s nothing really that I can do. Just time’s got to heal me. He kind of told me I can’t play unless I feel no pain, which isn’t good.

“I didn’t realize how serious it was and how long it’s going to take.’’

Today marks 33 days since Pedroia was injured, well short of six weeks. He is scheduled for a CT scan in Boston Friday, which should give doctors a better idea of how well the bone has healed. Until then, Pedroia will be shut down from throwing, taking grounders or batting practice to give his foot some rest.

“I think the message has been pretty consistent,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “I think today maybe Pedey heard it a little bit better.’’


Pedroia said his foot “felt weird’’ Monday when he tried jogging for the first time. “Any time my foot pounds on that ground, it didn’t really feel good,’’ Pedroia said. “[Yocum] said you have to be smart, man. It can definitely hurt you in the long run.’’

Pedroia had been under the impression he could play through some pain. But Yocum said that wasn’t an option. If Pedroia fractures that bone again, he would be looking at surgery that could keep him out for parts of next season.

Let’s recap what happened.  34 days ago Pedroia fouled a ball off his foot and broke it.  Doctors said that he would miss six weeks, but he promised to return ahead of schedule, apparently thinking that he had the ability to heal bones faster than other similar athletes.  Sure, OK.  Athletes say stuff like that all the time.  A week later, Pedroia used his crutches to get out on the field and took grounders from his knees.  When asked to explain himself, Pedroia said “I’m just keeping my [expletive] ready…That’s all I’ve got for you. I’ve just got to keep my arm in shape.’’  It’s hard to tell if Francona respected this display of bravado, saying, “He’s a maniac…He knows he can’t put any weight on that foot, or he’ll slow himself down.”

Pedroia is now probably two weeks away from returning and attempts to jog but says that it “felt weird”, no doubt sending terror throughout Red Sox Village.   The doctor scolds him, warning him that he’s risking the rest of this season, as well as part of next year, if he doesn’t cut it out and let the bone heal.  Pedroia acted as if this was news to him, but Francona isn’t buying it, saying “I think the message has been pretty consistent…I think today maybe Pedey heard it a little bit better.”

So how do we interpret this?  Do you interpret it like a hater like me would and say that Pedroia is a selfish, attention-seeking diva who is putting the club’s welfare at risk in order to beat a timeline and make himself look like a hero?  Do you interpret it like a homer would and say that Pedroia is just trying to get back as quickly as possible so he can help a struggling club get into the playoffs?  If it was Alex Rodriguez with the stress fracture and the details of the story were the same, would you feel the same way? Does it matter?  Finally, if those quotes were from Girardi about Rodriguez, would we all be hearing that Girardi is angry with Rodriguez, and that there is a schism in the clubhouse?  Does that illustrate any difference in approach between the New York and Boston media?  I’m not exactly sure where I come down on it, but I think it’s an interesting test case in light of our conversation about media narratives about Joba Chamberlain and Alex Rodriguez.

12 thoughts on “Pedroia, Francona and Media Narratives

  1. I think he’s a young guy filled with bravado that just doesn’t want to face the realities of his first major league DL stint. Francona should have exerted a bit of authority with him and kept him off the field and off his foot. He should have sat him down and made it clear what he is risking not only for himself long term, but for his club. From what little I can gather it seems Francona would prefer always to play good cop with his players. Not always the best plan

  2. This is my opinion based on observations on Twitter, but from all the talk I hear about beat writers supposedly being neutral observers and “rooting for people, not players,” the guys (and girl) on the Red Sox beat sure do things differently. Ian Browne, the writer who covers the Red Sox beat, openly roots for the Red Sox; the same thing with the beat writer for the Boston Globe, Amalie Benjamin. I’ve read from fellow Twitter followers that the same can be said about ESPN Boston’s writer, Gordon Edes.

    Personally, I never understood why it was such a negative for a journalist to be a fan of the team their following. They understand their job and that their credibility is at stake with every syllable they pen, so I would not expect them to be bias to the point that their work suffers for it.

    For those of you that follow the aforementioned, do you agree with these observations?

    • For one, you’re right about Browne/Edes from my perspective. I haven’t paid much attention to Benjamin.

      I don’t think it’s a big deal, per se. For one, I don’t really expect anyone to be able to divorce themselves completely from how they feel when reporting on a subject. It’s just not realistic. Secondly, I don’t think I’d want someone reporting on Yankees or on baseball who just treated it like a job and didn’t have passion for the sport itself, and if a beat writer is assigned to the Yankees by his/her newspaper and roots for the Yankees, or another team, I don’t think it’s an issue unless it comes across in their work.

      But at the same time, I don’t know how much it affects their work. I feel like we get a dose of ARod drama and ARod hate from the NYY beat crew largely because it seems like they genuinely dislike ARod. Some of them seem to genuinely dislike the Yankees. So are we hearing more about invented controversies because of their personal tastes? Would a similarly hostile Boston beat crew have invented a big time story about Francona being mad at Pedroia? Would have impacted the clubhouse culture or had an impact on how the club gets along and actually performs? These are the things I wonder.

      • I wonder the same things. I am confident in saying that Pete Abraham (Girardi and Rodriguez), Wallace Matthews (Rodriguez) and Joel Sherman (Burnett) have some level of dislike for guys on the Yankees.

        • Sherman’s a Mets fan. If you’ve ever heard him interviewed about both teams, his criticisms of the Yanks are the types of things that fans of the team don’t care about (payroll, etc) and his analysis is often way off base, as if it’s coming from someone who doesn’t ‘get’ the team in a very fundamental way. By contrast, he gets very passionate and frustrated when discussing the Mets ownership, which is very common among Mets fans.

          Of the beat writers, the only one who I know for a fact is a Yankee fan is Mark Fiensand.

    • This is a recent thing since the 2 championships. Before October 2004, the Boston press was notoriously antagonistic with the team’s management and front office. True, they were fans but they pounced on every little issue in order to make management and ownership look bad or stupid or both. Francona can expect a hands-off policy only so long as the team remains a contender. I would hate to be him, the players, or the owners if the Sox became irrelevant again,

      • Another factor is the rise of new media. Thanks to Twitter and blogs, there are plenty of reporters giving their opinion way more frequently than before, and it doesn’t have to go through the review process like a newspaper article would.

  3. I wouldn’t compare Girardi to Francona though. As we are constantly reminded by the NY media, Joe Girardi lies about players’ injuries all the time. Looks the press in the face and just outright lies.

    • I remember the big controversy back in Girardi’s first year as manager when he lied about some injury, and I remember the press getting all frothy about it and saying that if he wasn’t forthcoming with the media, he might eventually lose his job (the implicit reasoning being that the media had the ability to influence public opinion about the manager). I rarely read/listen to/watch the postgame interviews, so maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, but I can’t seem to recall any blatant lie since he came to Spring Training in 2009 and apologized for misleading the press in the past, and promised to do better. Has he lied repeatedly since? If not, I don’t think it’s very accurate to say that he lies about injuries all the time.

        • Right, the one ‘lie’ I remember was actually a miscommunication between him and Mariano Rivera, who rightfully gets a lot of deference in that clubhouse.

  4. I think JoeG is pretty straightforward about stuff like injuries.

    As far as Pedroia and Francona, I don’t see anything but sportswriters making something out of nothing. I’m not a big fan of descriptions of baseball players that use words like ‘scrappy’, but he does seem to be a pretty intense competitor. Sounds like DJ and Torre circa 2000-2006.