Mason: Crestfallen Dustin Pedroia arrives at a cruel crossroads

David Le photoIt’s been a long road back from knee surgery for Dustin Pedroia.

BOSTON — It made all the sense in the world, but given the speaker, you were still left rubbing your eyes and wondering whether or not it was real. 

After another setback with his bad knee, a crestfallen Dustin Pedroia was asked whether he believed he'd be able to play baseball again.

"I'm not sure," he replied. 

It was totally understandable given the odyssey he's been on since undergoing experimental surgery — the Red Sox moved him to the 60-day injured list yesterday — but Pedroia has made one of the most improbable careers in MLB history out of being sure. 

He was sure that a five-foot-nothing second baseman could be an MVP. Sure that a slump could turn into a laser show with one swing of the bat. Sure that anyone foolish enough to doubt him would be proven wrong, time and time again.  

But with a knee that still won't cooperate, Pedroia has been forced to stare his baseball mortality in the face. 

“I mean, my knee will never heal,” he said. "I just tried to do it day by day, you know what I mean? I didn’t look at a long-term thing. It’s kind of tough when all of the doctors and everybody I talk to say no, and I’m saying yes. So, when you’re going through something like that, you’ve just got to put your head down and work, man. That’s it. 

"You don’t know the end result. And that part’s hard, and that’s why a little reflection right now, I need. I need to reevaluate, go home, chill out, and see how everything responds.”

Pedroia will stay with the team through the New York series and then fly to Arizona to spend time with his wife and three boys. Though he hasn't contemplated retirement yet, those thoughts are sure to come.  

"I think the time will go by and I’ll know more about it," Pedroia explained. "I haven’t had a day off in a long time. Every day I wake up and I do some sort of rehab to do anything. I haven’t even sat down and thought about something like that or anything. I just know that right now I need a break from just the every-day stresses of dealing with what I’m dealing with, and that’s it.”

Since having the surgery two seasons ago, Pedroia had been adamant that he would come back at 100 percent. Yesterday marked the first time that belief seemed to waver. 

Whether or not he plays another inning, the scrappy infielder's legacy is safe. Pedroia willed himself into a Fenway Park favorite and has three World Series rings to show for it. 

"He’s a Boston legend as a player," Dave Dombrowski said. "One of the most respected players in the game of baseball since I’ve been in it. What he’s achieved on the field, the way he handles himself on and off the field, what he’s gone through over the last few years, I don’t know if there’s another player I’ve been around in baseball who would give the effort that he’s given to try to get back. 

"We’ll see what ends up happening, but it’s a wise decision to step back at this time and worry about Dustin as a person and not the player. He is somebody, talking to ownership and down over the last time period, that Dustin is the type of person we want to be in the Boston Red Sox organization for years to come. He’s a David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, the list goes on, Dustin Pedroia is the same type of person and player."

Whether he joins those two greats on the retired list remains to be seen, but for now Pedroia just needs a break. 

"It’s weird, man," Pedroia said. "Some days I feel fine and then an hour later, I can’t even — like, walking is tough.. You play 162 games, 183 days or whatever days, and you know, if I’m on an hour-to-hour basis of being able to do anything athletically, that’s tough. I think the time will give me the right answer of if my knee can do this.”

For the first time in his career, Pedroia isn't sure what comes next. 

Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at cmason@northofboston.com, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason