Former Sun Devil Pedroia Wins MVP

From the minute he began playing high school baseball; Dustin Pedroia was told that he was too small to accomplish anything. Instead of letting it get to him he decided just to outwork the other players and to do the little things to make up for his size. On Tuesday, that hard work continued to pay off for former Sun Devil Dustin Pedroia, as he was named the 2008 American League MVP.

"I hear that all the time, I heard it from a young age," said Pedroia, "I'm not big enough, fast enough or strong enough, I've heard that since high school. I got recruited to play at Arizona State and had a good career here and got drafted and said I don't see a difference between me and any other guys.

"I try not to look at my size or anything like that. If I can outhustle the other guy than it will make up for me being smaller than them or do the little things to help my team win and overcome my size."

Pedroia received 16 of the 28 first place votes cast, and beat out Minnesota's Justin Morneau and his own teammate Kevin Youkilis.

The 2nd baseman batted .326 with 17 home runs and 83 RBI for Boston in 2008. He led the majors with 54 doubles and was tied for the league lead with 213 hits.

"I am definitely excited," said Pedroia, "It was a tremendous year, just to be considered with the five or six guys that could have won this award, it was definitely an honor. To win this award is a huge accomplishment."

One of those people that he beat out was his own teammate Kevin Youkilis. Pedroia and Youkilis talked this morning and the Red Sox first basemen congratulated his teammate.

"I got a text message from him this morning, he just got back from Mexico, he was married and was on his honeymoon," remarked Pedroia.

Pedroia quickly made it clear that there was never a competition between the two and would have been happy if his friend won the award.

"I did something in Boston today and they thought it was some sort of competition between me and him, but me and Youk are good friends and he is just as deserving to win this award as I am."

For Pedroia, winning an MVP wasn't even a thought for him this season. To him, there is only one goal, winning.

"Not at all," said Pedroia when asked if he expected to win the MVP, "When we entered the season people were asking me about the sophomore slump. My main focus was on trying to get us to the World Series and have an opportunity to win another championship. All that negativity, I tried to put it in the back of my mind.

"I really don't have goals that I set; I'm the type of player that wants to help my team win every single day. Going into each season I don't set expectations, I just want to help my team win a championship. That was my job when I got called up and it is going to continue to be my job."

Pedroia isn't the common MVP who knocks out 40 homers or leads the team in RBI's, but that is ok with him.

"They aren't relying on me to hit 30 home runs or drive in 100 RBI's, my job is to get on base and start our offense and play great defense.

"After 2007 and winning the World Series, that is as special as it can get. That is why I play, to win. There is nothing like winning a championship, it makes you feel better than anything in your life."

Some found it interesting that Pedroia chose to have his press conference at Arizona State and Packard Stadium with ASU logos and not Red Sox logos. The second baseman certainly remembers where he came from.

The former ASU second baseman becomes the just the third former Sun Devil ever to win a Most Valuable Player award in Major League Baseball, joining legends Barry Bonds and Reggie Jackson. Pedroia starred at Arizona State from 2002 to 2004, winning the 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year award.

"It is an honor, I was given an opportunity to come here and play college baseball," stated Pedroia. "I didn't know what to expect being from a small town outside of Sacramento. I started to grow up here and become a man. I live here now and this is my home. It is pretty special to see these guys and still have a great relationship with all of them."

One of the people he still maintains a great relationship with is ASU Head Coach Pat Murphy. Pedroia said he really grew up playing in Murphy's program.

"A ton," said Pedroia in regards to how much he owes Murphy, "I grew up as a person playing college baseball. There are a lot of people that I owe, but he is at the top of the list. It wasn't easy that first month getting into the big leagues, I struggled and you rely on those people that love you to get out of it."

"I talk to him all the time, even when it is going good." Murphy then jokingly took credit for helping Pedroia fight through all the tough times.

From ASU, Pedroia went to the Boston Red Sox and last season won Rookie of the Year. In just his second season, Pedroia joins just Ryne Sandberg as the only second baseman ever to win MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in the same season.

"This game for me is my life, it is fun," said Pedroia, "Every day I play, I never take it for granted, I play as hard as I can every day. I did that as a little kid and I've stayed that way my whole life. I've always looked up to guys like that and it has been so much fun for me to play in the major leagues and help the Red Sox win."

Now Pedroia joins the likes of Carl Yastremski, Ted Williams and Roger Clemens as Red Sox that have won MVP awards.

"It is an honor to put on that uniform, to say that I play for the Boston Red Sox. To win the MVP and be mentioned in those guys' names, I would have never thought in a million years that I would win the MVP. I want to thank my teammates; those guys pushed me every day."

Now the question for Pedroia is where he will put all of his hardware that he has earned, including a Pac 10 Player of the Year award he won at ASU and now the MVP.

"I don't know," laughed Pedroia, "Right now we are trying to get a game room; maybe I'll put that stuff in there. I never thought this would happen and has taken a lot of hard work to get where I am at now and will take harder work to stay here."

But for now, Pedroia and his wife Kelli will head to Mexico for a little relaxation. They had to cut into their vacation one day, but the MVP probably makes up for that.

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