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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recalls life-changing 2004 trade deadline

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is busy reminding his players to not become too emotionally vested in the impending non-waiver trade deadline, knowing all too well what a sensitive time it can be.

Roberts' playing days with the Dodgers ended at the 2004 deadline in a move that ultimately would change his life, and soon. But Roberts wasn’t focused on the future when he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, only the chapter that just had ended.

The trade reduced him to tears.

“It was a shock,” Roberts said. “I wanted to stay with the Dodgers. I didn’t want to go to the East Coast. I loved what we were doing. You feel that you’re world is turning upside down. But in retrospect -- I wouldn’t change a thing.”

That’s because Roberts ended up becoming something of a hero in Boston for one play in the American League Championship Series. Late in Game 4 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees, with the Red Sox facing elimination, Roberts had one of the most famous stolen bases in playoff history.

Pinch running in the bottom of the ninth for Kevin Millar, who walked, Roberts stole second and scored on a single by Bill Mueller to tie the game. The Red Sox won the game in the 12th inning and then went on to win the next three games to advance to the World Series where they would end an 86-year championship drought.

Roberts’ steal represents the start of that improbable title run for many Red Sox fans. He is beloved in Boston, a town where he only played 45 regular-season games.

But when his July 31, 2004 trade went down -- with the Dodgers acquiring Henri Stanley -- Roberts couldn’t see the future, he was only left to process the upheaval that was happening. He learned plenty about the business of baseball that year.

“It’s part of the game,” Roberts said about trades. “It’s what all players know, coaches. It’s what we signed up for. Nothing is personal. It’s a game. It’s a business. There are relationships. But every team is trying to do what they can to benefit them in the near and long term.”

That being said, Roberts is trying to get his team to focus on the field, even though the Dodgers have been all over trade rumors in recent days.

“In a Major League Baseball season, this trade deadline is toward the top as far as potential external noise,” Roberts said. “As a manager, my job is to keep the guys focused on winning baseball games. And to focus on what potentially could happen, doesn’t help the situation. I think it sounds easy in theory, but it is a consistent message from me and the coaches.”

Roberts says an argument could be made for any area of the team that it is the spot that needs to be addressed most in a trade. But he isn’t yearning for a move.

“I try not to get too far into expecting or hoping (for a deal) because with the guys we have, we’re obviously doing something right,” Roberts said. “And all I care about is winning today. That’s it. And if something happens (by Monday’s deadline), then I care about winning Tuesday.”