FORT MYERS, Fla. Dustin Pedroia was asked if he would like to be team captain, given Jason Variteks unlikely return to the team.
I dont even think about that stuff, Pedroia said. Its Day One for me. I just want to have a good practice and help the team.
Which is probably a good thing. Manager Bobby Valentine is not sold on the concept of team captain, citing the 2011 World Series champion and captain-less St. Louis Cardinals.
Pedroia, who was very close to former manager Terry Francona, is starting his first big league season with a new manager.
Its different. Its the only thing Ive known, Pedroia said. Things change. Its tough to see him go especially the way it ended. Hell always be a close friend whatever he chooses to do forward. Im pulling for him.
He is still getting to know Valentine. The two talked a couple of times in the offseason, and had dinner together in Arizona.
I dont know, Pedroia said. Ive been here a day and half. Ive met him a couple of times. From what I hear he is thinking about baseball nonstop and thinking about fundamentals and getting this team where it needs to be. Its going to be exciting.
Valentine is just one of many new faces in camp. How does Pedroia see the team developing the necessary chemistry to win?
It takes time, he said. dont know these guys that well. The guys who do know each other stick together and the more your relationship builds with the new guys it will be that much stronger.
We got some guys who have been here a while. Well play hard. Thats what we do.
Like most of those teammates who were here last season, Pedroia is eager to put 2011 and the September collapse behind him, focusing on a fresh start for this season.
Im excited to go play again, he said. Last year the end was tough but we have to regroup together and come out and play good baseball all year long.
Play the game the right way Thats basically it. I dont have answers to what went on last year. Last year is over. It was tough. Theres not a day that goes by that I dont think about it. You have to try to turn the page and not think about it and play well and play for your teammates.
It remains to be seen, though, with whom Pedroia will be turning double plays. Mike Aviles, Nick Punto, and Jose Iglesias are candidates, after Marco Scutaros trade to Colorado in January.
Its going to be fine, Pedroia said. Scoot did a great job but we have Mike and Nick to step up and play good ball for us. Well be fine.
On Jacoby Ellsburys 2011 season, finishing second in American League MVP voting, Pedroia said:
He had an unbelievable year. We need him to do the same thing. I get on him all the time and tell him anybody can do it once. Hell be fine. Hes motivated, trust me.