During a radio interview with WEEI on Wednesday, Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia defended his teammates and manager Terry Francona from the harsh criticism levied by a Boston Globe investigative report.
"A lot of the stuff that was said is pretty unfair, and it hurts," said Pedroia, while refuting claims that clubhouse issues had anything to do with the team's late-season demise.
"We're all baseball players," he continued. "I showed up to work every single day ready to beat the other team, and everyone else did that too. I mean, we're a family. We had the best record in baseball up until September, whatever, and then we ran out of gas. We didn't play well. In the end, that doesn't have to do with Tito, or Theo, or any players, or what went on in the clubhouse. The leadership was there. We had guys that cared. We just didn't play well in the end. That's it."
"We try out hardest as players to police ourselves," he added. "Tek is the best. From what I've read he's taken some shots about being the captain and how he wasn't being a leader. That's false. Tek's in there. He says things to me. He says things to everybody.He'll say things to Jacoby [Ellsbury] to make him a better player, to everybody.
"I know 7-20 in September looks bad and everybody can say the lack of leadership but that's not true. We all wanted to win. We were all headed in the right direction. We didn't. That's basically it. They outplayed us in the end. Teams beat us that shouldn't have beat us and that's it. There's nothing more to it."
The Globe cited sources who wondered whether Francona's crumbling divorce and reliance on pain medication affected the way he managed this season. But Pedroia did not believe Francona deserved to have his personal life and dedication to managing questioned.
"I'm not surprised by anything, but it hurt," said Pedroia. "I've played with this guy for five years and he's had everyone's back since Day One. He might take the hit for some things and the way the team's playing and stuff like that but from Day One this guy had my back, he's had everyone's back. He protected every single guy in that clubhouse and that's why I respect him like you can't believe. Whatever job he gets, if he needs me for a couple of games or whatever just let me know, I'll go play for free. That's how much I care about this guy. This guy is my family.
"For him to have to deal with this, he's the best manager in the history of the Red Sox organization. He won two World Series, look at the run that he had there, it's pretty remarkable. That's the part that hurts and whoever the person it is that's saying this I think they need to take a step back and kind of look in the mirror and understand what they're saying about a guy. A lot of guys in this organization have his back and I'm one of them."
Pedroia made no excuses about Boston's collapse, but would like the Red Sox to learn from it.
"We made the biggest collapse in the history of baseball in September, so we have to own that, come back next year motivated, and prove everybody that we could all do it together," he said.
"I learn from my mistakes. I learn from failures. Look at me in April, 2007. I was horrible. But look at me now, one of the best players in baseball. That's what we need to get back to as a team. We all failed together in September, we're going to come back stronger and we're goig to prove to everybody that we're the team they talked about at the beginning of last year."