In second World Series, Pedroia living large

BOSTON -- Playing in the World Series for the second time since his rookie season in 2007, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia isn't letting the moment go to his head. At 5-foot-9 and an unlikely major league superstar, Pedroia tries to keep it all in perspective.

“That’s the thing, I better play hard because I’m not very big,” Pedroia said. “I’ve just got to find other ways to help us win. That’s what I do.”

Since his rookie season in 2007, Pedroia has found a plethora of ways to help the Red Sox win, whether it’s at the plate, on the bases or in the field. With a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP, four All-Star selections and two gold gloves in his first seven major league seasons, few players have been as important to their team as Pedroia is to the Red Sox.

“[He’s] probably the guy that sets the tone in terms of our work pace [and] the competitive nature that I think has filtered through our clubhouse,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “From the first day of spring training, the pace in which he works set the tone for this season and it has every year he’s been in this uniform.”

On Opening Day against the New York Yankees this season, Pedroia tore a ligament in his left thumb on a headfirst slide into first base. But the 30-year-old played through the injury while appearing in 160 games and batting .301. Despite hitting his lowest season total of home runs (nine) since his rookie year in 2007, when he hit eight, Pedroia saw the limitation as a blessing in disguise for the rest of his offensive approach.

“In the end, I’m going to look back and it helped me because I took huge swings in the past trying to hit home runs,” Pedroia said. “Sometimes I get a longer swing than I normally have ... so that kind of helped me being short to the ball, making sure I go the other way [and] not try to pull everything.”

Pedroia has started each of Boston’s 11 postseason games, collecting 12 hits in 43 at-bats and driving in seven runs. The second baseman had two hits and scored two runs in four plate appearances against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

“His personality is one that doesn’t match his size,” Farrell said. “It’s a big personality. It can be loud but it can be full of confidence.”