Pe­droia threw his own team­mate un­der the bus

Metro USA (Boston) - - SPORTS -

I get it. Dustin Pe­droia is go­ing to re­ceive the ben­e­fit of the doubt in Bos­ton.

He’s an All-Star sec­ond base­man, a ca­reer .300 hit­ter, a Gold Glove de­fender, a dirt dog in ev­ery sense of the phrase, and a two-time World Series cham­pion.

But that doesn’t mean he’s al­ways right. And on Sun­day in Bal­ti­more, he was wrong to throw his team­mate — re­liever Matt Barnes — un­der the bus.

Barnes threw a pitch over the head of Manny Machado in the eighth in­ning, which was re­tal­i­a­tion for Machado spik­ing Pe­droia while slid­ing into sec­ond base two games prior, on Fri­day night. Pe­droia left that game in­jured and missed the fi­nal two games of the series.

The pitch from Barnes was a fast­ball that clocked in at 90 mph on the NESN pitch zone. His fast­ball is usu­ally some­where around 98 mph. Re­gard­less of ve­loc­ity, head­hunt­ing is a ma­jor no-no, es­pe­cially when it’s used as re­tal­i­a­tion, which it was. Barnes got ejected, and said after the game that he never meant to tar­get the head. He never said he didn’t try to hit him; he just apol­o­gized for the lo­ca­tion of the in­tended mes­sage-sender.

Man­ager John Far­rell de­fended his guy, say­ing that it was a pitch that got away from him. But Pe­droia did the ex­act op­po­site. He threw Barnes un­der the bus.

NESN cam­eras caught the in­jured Pe­droia on the top step of the dugout, yelling over to Machado in the on-deck cir­cle, as Joe Kelly was warm­ing up in re­lief of the ejected Barnes. Pe­droia ini­ti­ated the back-and-forth, and by read­ing lips, he said, “That’s not me. If that was me, I would have hit you the first day. Now? That’s not me.”

The cam­era then showed Machado point­ing at his head, say­ing, “C’mon man.”

Pe­droia re­sponded, “I know, that’s bull [bleep],” while point­ing down his own tun­nel, the same tun­nel that Barnes had just walked down.

“That’s not me, that’s him,” said Pe­droia, as Machado gave him a slight nod and a quick pound of the chest as if to say, “I un­der­stand. Me and you are good.”

I was con­fused watch­ing it in real time. The more I go back and look at the en­tire ex­change, the more I cringe. Love Pe­droia the ballplayer all you want, but that was a bad look.

The de­fense is twofold: Barnes was wrong to throw at Machado’s head, and Pe­droia was try­ing to pro­tect his team­mates from any fur­ther re­tal­i­a­tion.

I agree with the for­mer, but let’s be happy that it didn’t ac­tu­ally hit him in the head. And as for the lat­ter, I have a tough time be­liev­ing any­thing Pe­droia said in that mo­ment was go­ing to af­fect Bal­ti­more’s re­sponse.

If Pe­droia was go­ing to be up­set, he should have han­dled it be­hind closed doors. He cer­tainly should not have dou­bled down to the me­dia postgame by say­ing he “loves” Manny Machado. I mean, c’mon. This is the same Machado who spiked you and put you out of ac­tion. It’s not Machado’s first on-the-field al­ter­ca­tion, and it won’t be his last.

After all, whether you hate the lo­ca­tion of the pitch or not, Barnes had one goal: to de­fend his guy. In this case, his guy was Pe­droia. In Barnes’ eyes, you can’t go spikes first into the Red Sox’ vet­eran leader and not pay for it. And don’t tell me he was the only one in the bullpen who felt that way. It was 6-0 late in the fi­nal game of the series. That en­tire Red Sox bullpen knew when Machado was due up. The only rea­son they knew that is be­cause they wanted to de­fend their guy.

Some­thing Pe­droia didn’t re­ally feel like do­ing. And as great a player as he is, that was a bad look.

Lis­ten to “The Danny Pi­card Show” at danny pi­card.com, iTunes, Google Play, and on the Pod cast One net­work. Danny can also be heard week­ends on WEEI 93.7 FM. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @Dan­nyPi­card.

@dan­nypi­card

Dustin Pe­droia should have done a much bet­ter job of de­fend­ing team­mate Matt Barnes. GETTY IM­AGES

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