Good news everybody: Dustin Pedroia is done diving into first base! Not only could that save the Red Sox an out or two over the course of the season (it's been proven to increase the time it takes to reach first on average), but maybe--just maybe--it will mean a full season with a healthy thumb!
That might not sound like a big deal if you haven't been following the second baseman's last couple of years. After hitting .309/.377/.469 in his first five years with the team, Pedroia has managed just .296/.360/.431 between 2012 and 2013. The common thread between those years: a banged up thumb. In 2012 it was a hyperextension that he played through (poorly) for a month before finally hitting the disabled list. In 2013 it was a torn ligament on Opening Day that he ignored as best he could for 175 games.
It's possible this is just Pedroia in decline. If you don't buy that, then presumably 2014 will look a lot closer to 2007-2011. If you do, then maybe it's just going to be more of the same. That's not that bad--Pedroia was a terrific player last year--but it's not what we've generally expected of him.
So what say you? Is Pedroia headed in the wrong direction, or ready to bounce back with an injury-free season?