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Sports

July 14, 2008

The Unlikeliest All-Star Balding, pudgy and diminutive, Pedroia is a giant on the field

BOSTON — David Ortiz was as blunt as he was philosophical.

"Some day I will tell my grandchildren that I played with one of the toughest, bad asses ever in baseball," said Ortiz. "Man, he's special."

Before you spit out his countrymen, Pedro Martinez or Manny Ramirez, as the "he" in this equation spit again.

The object of Ortiz's baseball affection is none other than Dustin Pedroia.

Dustin Pedroia?

"You don't know how good this kid is, how tough this kid is ... nobody knows," said Ortiz. "I realize he's a little guy, like 5-foot-3, but he plays like a giant. He plays like he's my size."

Apparently people do know. Players, media and, yes, fans have caught on.

Pedroia, who is generously listed as 5-9, is one of seven Red Sox players and several coaches who after yesterday's game with the Orioles chartered a private plane for New York to participate in the All-Star Game festivities beginning today.

But Pedroia is not a charity case who is taking up space as a member of the popular defending champs.

The reigning American League Rookie of the Year will be starting tomorrow night, as voted by the fans.

The leading vote getter at second base, Pedroia bested Texas Ranger Ian Kinsler, who some are calling the MVP of the American League thus far.

Even more impressive, Pedroia also easily beat out two popular All-Star game alums, Robinson Cano of the Yankees and Brian Roberts of the Orioles.

Ortiz, who was voted in as the designated hitter, will attend the festivities in New York as an observer.

Speaking of observing, Ortiz has had one of the best seats in the house lately, on the Red Sox bench nursing an injured hand since June 1. It has coincided with two Pedroia streaks.

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