Dustin Pedroia has no shortage of things to say about the craft of second base defense in this interview with David Laurila
David Laurila has been conducting interviews with players for years, and you can often find some fascinating tidbits about approaches, plans, or how life as a major-league player works. His most recent interview with Dustin Pedroia is no exception, as the two talked about defense. While Pedroia is quite the hitter, especially for a second baseman, defense is where he truly shines on the field.
Pedroia used to be a shortstop at Arizona State, and remained there until he went to Double-A in the Red Sox organization. Laurila and Pedroia discussed the switch to second from short, among other topics, in this interview. It's worth a read, but here are some quotes to get you moving:
DP: If you watch Derek Jeter in batting practice, he's always inside the ball, so I know, in the back of my head, that he's going to hit the ball from foul pole to foul pole. He could hit the ball anywhere. Then, if you watched Kevin Millar's swing, and he was dead pull in BP - his swing path was dead-pull - so I'd pretty much know he's never going to hit a ground ball to me. I can play way up the middle and help our shortstop by letting him get more in the hole, so hopefully he can take a hit away. He can eliminate what the hitter is trying to do. And maybe the hitter looks out there and sees that, and it puts something in his head. He might try to do something different, and that takes him out of his game.
Pedroia isn't the fastest second baseman around, but the man knows his positioning -- he's almost always setup at the start of a play to either get to or get closer to a ball in play than he maybe deserves, given his speed. This quote gives some insight into how he knows where he's going to position himself for specific players -- more goes into his reasoning than simply handedness at the plate. One wonders just how much Pedroia remembers long-term about where players tend to hit the ball.
Then, of course, there's the kind of quote you expect from Pedroia, even in an interview filled with things to learn:
DL: You've committed 50 errors in nine professional seasons. What does that mean to you?
DP: Is that a lot?
DL: Derek Jeter had over 50 in his second professional season.
DP: Oh, nice, I guess it's not a lot.
Make sure to check out the full interview, as it's well-worth the read.