The news of Ryan Dempster leaving baseball in 2014 wasn't just a shock to baseball fans, it was also a shock to his teammates, including Dustin Pedroia.
"Shocked" is exactly what Pedroia said he was upon finding out.
"I was talking to him in the clubhouse and they told him 'Alright, are you ready?' and he told me," Pedroia said. "And I didn't really know what to say. But what a great guy to play with and be around. The way he looks at baseball and life. I learned a lot from him from just playing baseball with him for one year, the way he treats everybody. He's a pretty special guy."
Dempster isn't the only player who won't return to the team after winning a World Series with them a season prior. The Sox leadoff hitter, Jacoby Ellsbury, is also gone - to the Yankees.
Filling that void won't be easy, and the Sox didn't go out and grab a player of Ellsbury's caliber in the offseason. But it looks like they'll make due with Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava at the leadoff spot. Pedroia doesn't see that as a problem.
"You can't replace a guy like Jacoby," Pedroia said. "The speed part that he brings. He led baseball in stolen bases I don't even know how many times. But whoever is going to hit leadoff, they don't need to try to be him, they just need to be themselves.
"It won't affect me. If Vic (Victorino) hits leadoff and he wants to run, I see him run, I'll take the pitch. I think the guys that have been around and been in this lineup, they understand the game and you just gotta try to play."