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Dustin Pedroia
Diminutive star speaks loudly, carries big stick

By Corey Gottlieb / MLB.com

According to former President Theodore Roosevelt, he who carries a big stick should make a point of speaking softly.

This much is clear, though: Teddy never met Dustin Pedroia.

When Pedroia swings, the whole world knows about it -- or at least they would, if the second-year slugger had it his way. Boston's smallest, biggest talent is a batting instructor's worst nightmare, a huge-hacking, rip-for-the-fences guy who takes cuts from his heels and steps in the bucket with almost practiced mechanical imperfection.

Not surprisingly, Pedroia has no plans of changing what has become a very, very good thing.

"I've swung like this, dude, since I was like 10," he told the Boston Globe. "I didn't really develop it; that's just what it was."

Such is the attitude that has worked for Pedroia while failing for so many other talented but cocksure stars; he has forever been a certain way, dude, and he isn't particularly concerned with how that makes you feel.

"I don't really care what people think -- I don't really have to prove anything to anybody," Pedroia told MLB.com.

To be fair, though, the diminutive slugger has actually had to prove himself to everybody since his earliest Little League days in Woodlawn, Calif. Consistently told he was too short or too weak or too slow to cut it among California's elite baseball crop, Dustin was doubted even by his own father at times.

"I have to admit, I was so negative about it," Guy Pedroia told the Globe. "I said [to my wife], 'Deb, look at me and you. He's got to have size.'"

Age: 25

Hometown:
Woodland, Calif.

College:
Arizona State University

Team: BOS

Video | Player bio
Less a doubter than a realist, Guy's worries were the natural product of his own experiences. Soon after their wedding, the Pedroias purchased Woodlawn's Valley Tire on credit, committing to a 20-year payment plan that they fulfilled by working countless 15-hour days.

Here was the catalyst for what has developed into Dustin Pedroia's mojo, his come-and-get-it edge. Set on the backdrop of blue-collar adolescence, he fashioned a perfect blend of cynicism and self-deprecation that would keep him perpetually balanced. Traversing that big white space between tire-shop warehouses and big league diamonds, the scrappy fighter found perspective in laughter.

And so he has become the ultimate ham, perhaps the most notorious motor-mouth in all of baseball. The self-proclaimed "worst .300 hitter in the league" -- not to be confused with the "strongest 160-pound player in the league," another Pedroiaism -- is at the heart of myriad anecdotes around the game:

Like the time he text messaged Kevin Millar before a Red Sox-Orioles game and asked, "Did you bring your glasses for the laser show tonight?"

Or the time he challenged Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn to a game of ping-pong and taunted, "I'm going to rip this ball right off your throat" (Pedroia won handily).

The list goes on. Call it the big talk of a little man, but Dustin calls it consistency.

"This is the way he's been his whole life," manager Terry Francona has said.

And this is the way he'll continue to be.

Corey Gottlieb is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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