|Dustin Pedroia missed Monday's game vs. the Yanks because of a broken finger he suffered Sunday in Baltimore. (US Presswire)|
NEW YORK -- Monday's Red Sox lineup told a story.
So did Tuesday's.
Monday's told the story of what has happened to this Boston season, finishing in such tatters that they faced the Yankees with a bunch of minor leaguers.
Tuesday's told the story of Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia missed Monday's game because of a broken finger, suffered sliding into a base Sunday in Baltimore. He had trouble swinging a bat, got an X-ray, and found out the finger was broken.
And then announced that he would play Tuesday and Wednesday, in the final two games of a season long past gone. He's playing, he said, because it's the right thing to do.
He's playing, he admitted, because he wouldn't mind the young Red Sox players learning that it's the right thing to do.
"It's part of the job," he said "They know I'm going to be out there. They should be out there, too."
While the Yankees are still trying to clinch the American League East title, Pedroia said he'd be playing regardless.
"I like playing, man," he said. "It's fun. I get to compete two more games, then I've got to sit around for six months before I can do it again."
No one should doubt Pedroia's sincerity on this subject. Remember back to May, when he had an ailing thumb but talked his way off the disabled list.
I wrote then that it was the wrong decision, but even then you had to admire Pedroia's desire to play.
Pedroia and Bobby Valentine haven't exactly had the closest relationship, but Valentine spent part of Tuesday's pregame press conference praising Pedroia's work ethic and his desire to play.
"If anyone's been watching -- and how could you miss it? -- Dustin has always done more than you could ever expect anyone to do on a baseball field," Valentine said. "He's extraordinary. Was I surprised when I got the text that he said he's fine [to play]? I fell off my bike -- literally.
"But I shouldn't have been surprised."
Valentine also had Jacoby Ellsbury back in his lineup Tuesday. His explanation of Ellsbury's absence Monday was a little tougher to follow.
According to Valentine, he made the decision Monday because he didn't like Ellsbury's at-bats against Orioles left-hander Joe Saunders, and thought rookie Che-Hsuan Lin had a better chance against lefty CC Sabathia.
Valentine pointed out -- correctly -- that Lin had two of the four Red Sox hits against Sabathia.
"So my hunch was right," Valentine said. "I thought I was playing the team that gave us the best chance to win."
Pedroia, meanwhile, defended Ellsbury's Monday absence by saying: "He's been beat up, man. He's had his share of injuries this year."
Pedroia has an injury now, a broken finger. But he insists on playing.
The doctors told him he couldn't do more damage, that it was just a matter of pain tolerance. So he's playing, in the final games of a season in which the Red Sox have a 69-91 record.
That's embarrassing, Pedroia agreed.
"Yeah, we're the Boston Red Sox," he said. "I never had a thought in my mind we'd lose 90."
And he never has a thought that he won't play, any time he can.