Dustin Pedroia, a.k.a. “The Muddy Chicken,” Graces This Week’s Cover

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia graces the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated — dated Aug. 15, 2010, and on newsstands Wednesday — with the billing “Heart of the Red Sox.” Pedroia is the first Red Sox player to appear on the cover since Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz on the 2008 Baseball Preview (March 31, 2008). The last member of the Red Sox to have the cover all to himself was Jonathan Papelbon (Nov. 5, 2007).

Since 1988, The Red Sox are the only major league team to feature players from all nine positions — plus a starting pitcher, closer and DH — on the cover of SI. The list includes:

In a lineup of stars, nobody has played a larger role in the success of the Red Sox than the 5′ 8″, 165-pound Pedroia. And nobody has inspired better nicknames. Pedroia tells senior baseball writer Tom Verducci that his latest moniker, the Muddy Chicken, came about during the postgame meal following Boston’s 1–0, 16-inning win over Tampa Bay in June (page 28): “David [Ortiz] was eating this chicken from the Dominican Republic. I don’t know who he got it from. But it was [bleeping] disgusting. So I said, ‘I want to be called that.’ … [Bleeping] Muddy Chicken…. They started laughing, so they started calling me that. And it was a 16-inning game, and I think there were some cocktails involved in some people’s interviews. That’s basically it. And then we got back home and, thanks to New Balance, there are boxes of Muddy Chicken T-shirts. I’m like, What’s wrong with you guys?”

Pedroia’s size (or lack thereof) leads to him being constantly labeled as  a scappy overachiever when, in fact, he is gifted with freakish hand-eye coordination and supreme athleticism. Says White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen: “I love that little [guy]. It looks like he escaped from Cirque du Soleil and they put a uniform on him.”

On the Tablets: Size didn’t matter to these vertically challenged men who made baseball history — well, maybe it did to 3′ 7″ pinch hitter Eddie Gaedel.


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