David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia would seem to have nothing in common beyond the uniform they wear.
Ortiz is a linebacker-size slugger with a personality to match, a man unafraid to voice an opinion or live the life he has earned. If Ortiz is in the room, you know it.
Pedroia is a second baseman on the small side, a versatile player whose playful arrogance serves as a shield against those who would dare doubt him. Off the field, he is a husband and father content to lead a quiet existence.
But in the eight seasons they have been teammates on the Red Sox, Ortiz and Pedroia formed a bond that goes far beyond baseball and helped serve as a foundation for the team’s success this season.
“That guy, he’s like my brother,” Ortiz said. “We’re family.”
The Sox gathered at Fenway Park on Thursday for a workout in preparation for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night. For Ortiz and Pedroia it was a day to savor after the disappointments that marked recent seasons.
It’s not something they’ve discussed at length. But Ortiz and Pedroia understand the significance of this particular postseason.
“It’s great,” Pedroia said. “We’ve played together for a long time and we’ve gone through so much together, a lot of ups and downs. He knows we have each other’s back.
“We don’t talk about our relationship. This is our job and we’re both trying to win games.”
When the Red Sox started the process of renovating a last-place team a year ago, finding players who shared the values of their unofficial cocaptains was a starting point.
Ortiz and Pedroia became the cornerstones general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell built around.
“We can’t overstate that influence,” Farrell said. “As every new player comes here, whether it’s through the system as a first-year player or a guy who has signed here in the offseason or through trade, they’re going to look to David and Dustin as the guys who have the most experience here in Boston.”
Whether it’s understanding the expectations of a demanding fan base or dealing with the media, Ortiz and Pedroia are clubhouse resources for players of all backgrounds.
The accomplishments demand respect. Ortiz, 37, is statistically the greatest designated hitter in history. He is a nine-time All-Star with two World Series rings and 431 home runs.
Pedroia, 30, is a former Most Valuable Player with four All-Star appearances and a long-term contract that will make him the face of the franchise for years to come.
“They carry the torch. They have set the example,” Farrell said. “They don’t hold back with each other, either. While they respect one another, they have fun and yet they can get a clear message across if they need to.
“It’s one thing to be a talented player and a veteran. It’s the willingness to speak, because then you’re holding yourself to a higher level of accountability, that sets them apart.”
It’s not something Ortiz and Pedroia do by design. Their style of leadership is more instinctual.
“I don’t think either one of us looks at it like that. My main thing is show up and work. This is our job,” Pedroia said. “I try to lead by example and David does, too. Go out and play a certain way.
“David is always in the cage hitting or watching video. Guys learn and get better from watching him do that.”
That, Pedroia said, is a side of Ortiz that too often goes unnoticed.
“David is intelligent. I think that’s what people don’t know. They just think he gets in the box and takes a big rip at it,” Pedroia said. “There’s a game plan about how we’re going to attack pitchers and I’ve learned a lot of that from David as I’ve gotten older.
“That’s why our offense has been so good for so long. It’s because guys like him think out approaches and have a plan when they go up there.”
There are times when good intentions go awry. In July, Ortiz used a bat to destroy a dugout telephone in Baltimore after he struck out. Pedroia was only a few feet away and had to duck away from the debris.
“He got mad at me that day. But he knows how to settle me down,” Ortiz said. “He gets on me when I’m going all crazy out there. We have a really good relationship. He does his own thing and I do mine. But when things get out of control and we have to say something to each other, we do it.”
Ortiz often calls Pedroia “Pee Wee,” the nickname former manager Terry Francona used.
“We go back and forth,” Ortiz said. “But Pee Wee, nobody brings more to the table for us than he does. I always say that. We’re not the same team without that guy.”
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks said watching the byplay between Ortiz and Pedroia in the clubhouse is entertaining.
“Oh, they go at it,” Middlebrooks said. “They push each other a lot. They’ve had success together and had struggles together. That brings people closer.”
Ortiz hosted a party for his teammates at his home on Thursday night after the Sox finished their workout. On his way out of the clubhouse, Pedroia stopped by Ortiz’s locker to ask if he could bring a friend who had just arrived from out of town.
“Come on, man. What a question. You want me to kick your ass?” Ortiz said. “Of course you can.”
“You don’t know my entourage,” he said. “Hide your wallet.”
Ortiz smiled as Pedroia walked away.
“That guy is one of the best teammates you can have,” Ortiz said. “I’ve never seen anybody like him before and I never will. He shows up the same way every day. There are no excuses. There are doubts about him.
“When I go back to my country, I get questions about that guy every day. I tell them the truth, he’s a trouper and he’s a great teammate. It has been a good friendship.”Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.