He never makes mention of it.
At the start of the season it was Dustin Pedroia’s thumb, but it took nearly two months for anyone to realize it.
A week ago, his left arm was in a compression sleeve after a win over the Yankees.
He was in the lineup the next day.
Before he took the field Thursday against the Orioles, Pedroia received attention from the training staff.
Then went 2 for 4, with a ground-rule double to lead off the night and an RBI single in the second as the Red Sox clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 victory over the Orioles.
Pedroia leads the team in games and probably injuries played through.
But he downplays them, because on a team that’s now won 24 more games than a year ago and has its first division title since 2007 in its sights, he knows he’s not the only one.
“We’re all playing hard until the end,” Pedroia said. “It’s a step toward accomplishing our goal. Got to keep it going.”
But around the clubhouse, teammates know the toll Pedroia’s taken this season.
“Everybody plays through something every day and Pedey, everybody knows about the thumb and he’s made no excuses,” said shortstop Stephen Drew. “He’s a gamer and it’s fun to play with him over there and to watch him play year-round. I’ve seen him on TV and stuff, but to actually play with him, it’s fun to watch.”
Whatever the circumstance, Pedroia figures out a way to adapt.
When a fractured foot took Jacoby Ellsbury out of the lineup two weeks ago, Pedroia didn’t hesitate to stop in manager John Farrell’s office. Farrell didn’t have to figure out what he was going to do at the leadoff spot. Pedroia volunteered.
He’s gotten a hit in all nine games atop the order, going 13 of 40 (.325), and the Sox are 6-3 in those games. When leading off an inning this year he’s hitting .324 (35 of 108) with 12 walks and 27 runs.
“Pedey does that day in and day out,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “You need him in the lineup not only at the plate, but what he does defensively. We know what we are with him and what we are without him, and we’re a lot better with him.”
The double he smacked into the Red Sox bullpen to start the first made him 3 for 9 leading off games. It was also his fourth extra-base hit in as many games.
It was the first of five hits in the first three innings of Orioles starter Chris Tillman, who was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four previous starts against the Sox this season.
“He’s thrown the ball great all year,” Pedroia said. “He’s one of the best. His numbers show it. The way he attacks hitters. He threw the ball great tonight. [John Lackey] was just a little bit better.”
After the Red Sox had clinched their first playoff berth since 2009, Pedroia’s tone was understated.
There was more to be done.
“Our main goal is to try to get in, win the division, and try to win a World Series,” he said. “We’ll celebrate when we win the division.”Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.