In year of change, Pedroia 'bedrock' for Boston

Second baseman set for 11th straight Opening Day start at position for Red Sox

In year of change, Pedroia 'bedrock' for Boston

BOSTON -- For the Red Sox, it is the first year without David Ortiz since he retired. It is the first year with Chris Sale.

It is also a year that starts with uncertainty surrounding David Price, who is on the disabled list with a left elbow strain.

With a considerable amount of change in the air, there stands Dustin Pedroia, who feels as constant around Fenway Park as the Green Monster.

When Boston starts its season on Monday at home against the Pirates (2:05 p.m. ET), Pedroia will be at second base for the 11th straight Opening Day.

Pedroia's two-run double

Only Carl Yastrzemski started more consecutive openers at any single position for the Red Sox (12), and that was from 1961-72.

"I don't know what that means. I guess I'm kind of like a house fly," quipped Pedroia. "You can't get rid of them or something. I don't know, man. I'm just trying to show up every year and play, and I enjoy playing. I enjoy playing here, and it's a great place when you win. And we plan on doing that."

The house fly Pedroia spoke of is probably the way Boston's opponents feel about him, considering his contributions in all facets of the game.

But the Red Sox love the frenetic way Pedroia leads them. And that was true even when Ortiz was around. It will just evolve this year.

"For the last decade, he's been a bedrock here," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's been a cornerstone player, and his importance continues to grow. As players have moved on, Pedey is still the one guy who's still in his prime and has had a fantastic Spring Training. Even for a guy with his stature here in Boston, the number of years he's been here, he's still growing daily as the leader of our team and is more and more comfortable in that role."

Pedroia's sliding stop

Pedroia has already been part of two World Series-championship teams in Boston, and he'd love to tie his good friend Big Papi with a third ring this season.

Nobody appreciates the tradition that surrounds the Red Sox and the expectations that come with it more than Pedroia.

"I kind of look at every season as the same," Pedroia said. "Our goal is to win the World Series. It's going to be the goal for the Boston Red Sox when I'm gone. That's just something that the guys that were here before me have started, and everybody just keeps passing it along.

"You try to win every single game you play in this environment. We're all going to miss [Ortiz], but he's not here anymore. We've got to kind of turn the page and use the stuff that he helped us learn and go on."

The one thing that will change Monday for Pedroia is it will mark the first Opening Day where he is the longest-tenured player on the Red Sox.

Pedroia's RBI single

His enthusiasm for this one will be the same as it was a decade ago when he started his first opener.

"It's awesome," Pedroia said. "I get nervous every game. I think everyone does. Opening Day is a little bit different. It's the first everything. You want to get the first ground ball hit to you out of the way. You always have nerves and things like that.

"In this game, there's always change. We won the World Series in 2013, and I think the next year half of our team was gone. Everything changes. It doesn't matter who's here for what period of time. You have to go play together and execute. That's what we plan on doing."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.