Podsednik's grit, energy spur comeback

Podsednik's grit, energy spur comeback

Podsednik's grit, energy spur comeback
BOSTON -- There isn't a whole lot that gets Scott Podsednik down. Much of the success of his career can be traced to the grit and energetic presence he's used to lift the Red Sox in recent weeks.

But when the Phillies told him late in Spring Training that he didn't make the team, he felt as low as he's ever felt in baseball.

"I thought I was going to make their team," Podsednik said. "It was tough, it was tough. I worked hard to get myself back into shape to try to get back to the big leagues. But I understand the business side of it. I understand that it was probably the right move for them, but it was tough to swallow."

When you consider that Podsednik is 36 years old, already owns a World Series ring (from 2005, with the White Sox) and even made the All-Star team, nobody would have given it a second thought if he had just decided to call it a career once the Phillies gave him the bad news.

"Those thoughts came up," Podsednik said. "I did not want to do it at Triple-A, because I knew how difficult it was going to be to get myself going. I'm not proud to say that, but when you spend a few years in the big leagues, you kind of get spoiled, and it's tough to go down to Triple-A and play with a sense of passion and urgency. The thought crossed my mind: 'Will I ever make it back?'

Once the bitter emotion subsided, Podsednik thought about it objectively and took the assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, realizing that business had more to do with his failure to make the team than ability.

"The bottom line was that I still felt I could play," Podsednik said. "My out was June 1. Juan Pierre's was March 30. They could keep both of us. From an organizational standpoint, it was the right move."

The problem for Podsednik is that he fell a bit off the radar in 2011, hobbled by pain in both feet that limited him to just 34 games, all of which were in the Minor Leagues.

Then the offseason came, and Podsednik's body told him just what he wanted to hear -- he still had something left.

"I just needed time. I needed to get off of [my feet] and give them time to heal," Podsednik said. "I had a full offseason of training to get my body in shape, and condition to the point where I needed it to go do what I do.

"The reason why I was down last year was because of foot problems. It wasn't because of a lack of performance. I was just flat-out injured and just couldn't perform."

Podsednik gritted his teeth and hoped nobody would forget about him at Lehigh Valley.

"I didn't think that my career was over," Podsednik said. "I still felt I could play. But [whether] I was going to get that opportunity or chance was another story."

Then, a fortuitous break occurred. The Red Sox sent some cash considerations to the Phillies on May 12 to bring Podsednik to their organization.

Without a spot for him at that time, Boston assigned Podsednik to Triple-A Pawtucket.

"It gave me a little bounce in my step," Podsednik said. "It gave me a little glimmer of hope that there might be an opportunity waiting."

Ten days later, with outfielders Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney joining Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford on the disabled list, Podsednik was promoted to the Red Sox.

Just like that, he was back in the Majors for the first time since 2010.

Nobody could have known how well Podsednik would fare in Boston, or even how much manager Bobby Valentine would use him.

But a funny thing happened. Podsednik started contributing every time he played. And suddenly, he found his name in the lineup just about every day.

"Scotty Podsednik is playing a great brand of baseball," Valentine said. "He's doing everything you ask him to do, plus some. He's a baseball player with speed and knows how to work the count and can handle the bat."

In 19 games with the Red Sox, Podsednik is hitting .387 with a .409 on-base percentage and six stolen bases.

The sting of late-March has been replaced by the complete joy of mid-June.

"I'm having a blast," Podsednik said. "I'm leading off for the Boston Red Sox. That's something that I've enjoyed doing for the past six, seven years. I love providing energy at the top of the lineup, so things couldn't be better."

Podsednik had a scare on Sunday night against the Cubs, though, suffering a left groin strain. However, he felt the injury was minor and hopes to be back in the lineup by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Back in the big leagues, Podsednik is thoroughly enjoying himself. As for the way he is playing, Podsednik is keeping it simple.

"I'm going to go and play my game, whether it's with the Boston Red Sox or the Philadelphia Phillies or whoever else," Podsednik said. "If teams like [the way I play] and want a piece of that, they could come get it. I've tried to just simplify it -- just go out and play baseball."

If he takes a minute to reflect, Podsednik takes pride in overcoming the bumps he endured on his trek back to the Majors.

"There's a sense of accomplishment," Podsednik said. "I feel like I've worked hard and I've grinded to get myself back to the league, so I'm proud of myself for what has taken place over the last year. But I'm not surprised. I've worked my tail off, and I still feel like the legs have quite a few more years in them.

"Things are going as planned for me. I got myself in shape and the plan was to get to the big leagues and play my game, and that's what's happening."

It helps that he's earning respect from his new teammates along the way.

"He's great, man. It helps when guys come in with that attitude, especially with all the injuries we have," said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. "He comes ready to play every day. Even if he's not playing, he's ready to go."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.