Dustin Pedroia: Red Sox unified, despite apparent issue with Barnes-Machado incident

BOSTON -- By throwing at Manny Machado in the eighth inning of a six-run game Sunday in Baltimore, the Boston Red Sox thought they were getting closure on an incident that occurred two nights earlier.

Instead, they only made a mess for themselves.

The cleanup began Tuesday. After heavy rain at Fenway Park washed away the series opener against the New York Yankees, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia defended comments in which he distanced himself from teammates after pitcher Matt Barnes unloaded a 90 mph fastball behind Machado's head in apparent retaliation for the Baltimore Orioles star's high spikes-up slide Friday night that caused Pedroia to miss two games with a sore left knee and ankle.

"We all talked about that. We're going to keep that in house," said Pedroia, who is expected back in the lineup Wednesday night. "We feel good about each other. We all have each other's backs. Everybody knows how everybody feels about each other. We're pretty excited about the group we have."

Predictably, that was the prevailing sentiment among the Red Sox. Barnes, who is appealing a four-game suspension by Major League Baseball, concurred with Pedroia that "everybody in this clubhouse has one another's back." And manager John Farrell added that he "didn't feel any rift that was in the clubhouse because of what transpired."

On Sunday, though, Pedroia didn't hide his disapproval of Barnes. Immediately after Barnes was ejected from the game, television cameras caught Pedroia whistling to get Machado's attention and yelling to him, "That's not me. That's him." Then, after the game, Pedroia characterized the entire episode as "definitely a mishandled situation" and actually said he loves Machado.

In all likelihood, it was Pedroia's way of defusing the situation. If Barnes' feelings were hurt -- and it's not clear that they were -- they will heal much faster than a fastball to the ribs. And with the Orioles coming to Fenway Park next Monday, the last thing Pedroia wants is for any of the Red Sox to get drilled in response for Machado nearly getting beaned.

But publicly disavowing a teammate raised more than a few eyebrows among Red Sox fans, especially considering Pedroia is the team's longest-tenured player and de facto captain.

Asked if Pedroia needed to clarify his "it's not me" comments, Barnes said, "Absolutely not. Dustin's a great teammate."

But even Orioles closer Zach Britton questioned Pedroia's leadership as a result of the incident. In a postgame interview Sunday with Baltimorebaseball.com, Britton wondered if there's a "bigger issue" in the Red Sox's clubhouse because Pedroia took sides against the family.

Once again, Pedroia had to defend himself Tuesday.

"I don't know Zach. I haven't played with him," Pedroia said. "I'm sure if I had played with him, his opinion of what I said would be different. His comments were said after an emotional game. Obviously he was upset at the situation. I don't think negatively at him. I try to look at both sides before I jump to conclusions on anything.

"Guys that should know, know how we feel about each other and things like that. It's unfortunate that the outside has an opinion, but they're going to have an opinion about everything. We all know how we feel. We're moving on."

It isn't the first time Pedroia has said something controversial. Early in the 2012 season, he spoke out against then-manager Bobby Valentine for critical comments about third baseman Kevin Youkilis. In that case, Pedroia backed a teammate but was insubordinate to his manager. The front office backed Pedroia, and Valentine was fired after the season, in which the Sox went 69-93 and finished in last place.

This time, though, the Red Sox insist Pedroia's comments won't linger.

"Any conversation that might have been needed was had and we're on to this series upcoming," Farrell said. "What's done is done."