Ex-Sun Devil Pedroia wins AL MVP - East Valley Tribune: News

Ex-Sun Devil Pedroia wins AL MVP

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Posted: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 12:15 pm | Updated: 10:35 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Do not ask Dustin Pedroia about the time he faced Doug Pelfrey in college in 1997. "Not Wichita State," Pedroia said, laughing, when the story came up.

VIDEO: Dustin Pedroia talks about being selected as AL MVP

Do not ask Dustin Pedroia about the time he faced Doug Pelfrey in college in 1997. "Not Wichita State," Pedroia said, laughing, when the story came up.

But Arizona State baseball coach Pat Murphy could not help himself, wishing to illustrate the competitiveness - and ability - that shaped Pedroia and a decade later resulted in his being named the 2008 American League Most Valuable Player.

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Wichita State fans were heckling the Sun Devils' Pedroia about his size before an impending at-bat against Pelfrey, whose fastball was regularly hitting the mid-90s and who would soon be a first-round pick in the major league draft.

"Niney-five, ninety-six," the fans shouted in glee, watching scouts' radar guns.

Pedroia, 5-foot-7, turned to the hecklers and said, "Watch this. It's going out at 102."

Sure enough, Murphy said, Pedroia lined a fastball over the shortstop's head for a double.

"The thing is, nobody can ever get mad at him - his teammates know he plays hard every game, every pitch, every at-bat," Murphy said.

"The stuff he has, it's what you hope your kids have in every walk of life."

Pedroia was named first on 16 of the 28 ballots by the Baseball Writers' Association of America to outdistance Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau and Boston teammate Kevin Youkilis. Morneau got seven first-place votes, and Youkilis had two.

It was the second straight year Pedroia was honored nationally, after winning the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year Award during a season that was capped when the Red Sox won their second World Series in four years.

"I've heard it all my life - you are not big enough, not fast enough, not strong enough," said Pedroia, the Pac-10 player of the year his last season at ASU.

"I heard that in high school. But I didn't see any difference between me and the other guys, if I can contribute and do the little things more than the other guys. All the negativity, I try to put it out of my mind."

Pedroia became the first AL second baseman to be named MVP since Nellie Fox in 1959 - and only the fourth overall. Charlie Gehringer (1942) and Joe Gordon (1937) are the others.

He led the AL in runs (118), doubles (54) and multi-hit games (61), and tied for the league lead in hits (213) with Ichiro Suzuki.

Pedroia, 25, became the first AL player since Cal Ripken to follow a Rookie of the Year award with an MVP. Philadelphia's Ryan Howard did it in 2005-06.

"I never thought in a million years I would be the MVP," Pedroia said. "I always looked up to the guys like Cal Ripken. This game is my life. It's fun. I never take it for granted. I play hard every day. I did it when I was a kid, and I never changed."

He is the 10th Red Sox player to win the award, joining Ted Williams, Roger Clemens, Fred Lynn, Carl Yastrzemski and Jimmie Foxx, among others.

Pedroia and his wife, Kelli, delayed their planned vacation to Mexico for a day to take part in a press conference at ASU.

Pedroia grew up outside Sacramento, Calif., but they make their home in Chandler.

"I started to grow up and become a man" at ASU, Pedroia said.

"This is my home."

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