"I don't know, I. ... " Pedroia paused and looked around the room. He saw Ortiz hunched over a plate of chicken smothered in a sauce.
"David was eating this chicken from the Dominican Republic," Pedroia said. "I don't know who he got it from. But it was [bleeping] disgusting. So I said, 'I want to be called that.'"
"What is that?" McDonald said.
"[Bleeping] Muddy Chicken," Pedroia said.
"They started laughing, so they started calling me that," he said. "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?"
Is Muddy Chicken better than Laser Show?
"I don't really like that, either," he says.
Pedroia can laugh at himself, which endears him even to opponents and takes the edge off his boasting. In the middle of a 25-game hitting streak last month, for instance, he threw baseball superstition aside and shaved his beard and cut what's left of his hair to almost nothing, explaining, "I don't know. I was looking in the mirror and going, Man, I'm an ugly guy. I need to clean this up."
"He's a beautiful, spirited kid," Murphy said.
His spirit, even his love of baseball, was tested two years ago. Kelli was pregnant with Dylan and still almost two months from her due date when she went into labor. Doctors were concerned about the baby and administered a steroid shot to Kelli to help the baby's lungs develop in case of a premature birth. Dustin missed the game that night. Kelli, her delivery forestalled, remained in the hospital for eight days. When she was released, she was ordered to stay on strict bed rest for the remaining five weeks of her pregnancy. In the meantime, Dustin was named to the All-Star Game, which was being played in St. Louis. He skipped the game.