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Pedroia: I want to play short for Sox

Pedroia: I want to play short for Sox

BOSTON -- The Red Sox have a hole at shortstop, and they have casually discussed filling it internally -- with second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

ESPN.com reported on Tuesday morning that the team has asked Pedroia, a Gold Glove Award winner at second base, if he could play shortstop for the team if needed next season.

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Though it is still a big if at this point, the 2008 American League Most Valuable Player said he would be all for it.

"They've asked me if I think I could play shortstop," Pedroia told ESPN's Peter Gammons. "They've put it out there, and I've told them I'm all for it. I can do it. I can't wait for [Terry Francona] to call me and ask, 'Can you do it?' I can do it. I really want to do it."

However, Pedroia moving to shortstop is only one of many alternatives -- and perhaps one of the least likely -- the Red Sox have when it comes to constructing their roster for 2010.

One club official, with direct knowledge of the discussions the club had with Pedroia, was surprised the story made its way to ESPN.

"It was a very casual conversation," the club official, who requested anonymity, told MLB.com. "There's probably a lot more being made of it than there should be."

Pedroia was an All-America shortstop at Arizona State and takes ground balls at the position during the season. However, Pedroia has developed into one of the best defensive second basemen in the Majors and hasn't played shortstop for the Red Sox since late in the 2006 season.

One reason the Red Sox would at least consider moving Pedroia is if they had an easier time finding a second baseman on the market than a shortstop. Marco Scutaro is the best free agent available at short, but he is 34 years old and coming off a career year. As a Type A free agent, the Red Sox would have to surrender Draft compensation to the Blue Jays for Scutaro.

As far as available second basemen, the Marlins might be willing to part with Dan Uggla, who clubbed 31 homers in 2009. ESPN.com speculated that the Red Sox could make a push for Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who hit 20 homers and drove in 98 runs in 2009.

Orlando Hudson and Placido Polanco are two of the top second basemen on the free-agent market.

It isn't surprising that Pedroia -- ever the competitor -- would be willing to take on a new challenge.

"One thing they know is that I will catch the ball," Pedroia told ESPN.com.

The Red Sox declined their club option on shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who signed with the Blue Jays last week. Though Boston likes Jed Lowrie, general manager Theo Epstein has said numerous times this winter that the team can't depend on his health at this point. Lowrie has had left wrist woes throughout his first two Major League seasons.

Pedroia played 42 errorless games at shortstop in his first season in the Minor Leagues, in the South Atlantic and Florida State Leagues in 2004, before moving to second base the next year because of the presence of Hanley Ramirez.

In 132 Minor League games at shortstop, he made seven errors -- all for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2006.

In 2006, Pedroia played in six games (five starts) at shortstop for the Red Sox and made one error. Since then, the 26-year-old said he's gained more quickness, and he's not worried about his perceived lack of arm strength for the position.

"When the idea of moving back to shortstop was floated to me, I welcomed it," Pedroia told ESPN.com. "I'm excited. Tell Derek [Jeter] to enjoy the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards while he can. Obviously, I'm not serious about the fun I have with Derek, but I'm never stopping believing in the goal. I believe I can play shortstop and help get the Red Sox back where they belong."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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