Dustin Pedroia saves error with excellent bare-handed diving throw

Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has a message to today’s baseball-playing youths: Always remember the fundamentals!

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Pedroia didn’t get his point across vocally, though we imagine he would if asked. Instead, he let his actions speak for themselves during Monday night’s game against the Texas Rangers.

With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth inning, Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez hit a half-swing tapper up the third base line. Considering Gomez’s speed, the ball looked like trouble immediately. Third baseman Deven Marrero scooped it up with his barehand, and threw it away with Gomez digging for first.

Then, this happened:

Marrero’s throw flies way past first baseman Mitch Moreland, and soars into foul territory. It bounces off the wall and shoots back into the field of play. As it starts to make its way to shallow right, it’s cut off by Pedroia, who was hustling over to cover first base.

Pedroia’s momentum is carrying his body toward foul territory, so he has to slide to try and stop himself while jabbing out his right arm to barehand the ball. With the ball in his right hand, and Pedroia propping himself up with just his glove and his left knee, he throws to first base to nab Gomez for the out as he’s falling to the ground.

Dustin Pedroia knew exactly where he needed to be on this play. (MLB.com Screenshot)

After seeing the ball fly past Moreland, Gomez took a turn at first and was thinking about heading to second. He found himself caught off the bag when Pedroia made the play and was tagged out as he was trying to get back.

Now, we can see the skeptics start arguing right now. Pedroia wasn’t exactly in the best position to cover first, right? He should have been behind Moreland in foul territory.

Before you criticize, watch the play from this angle. When the camera takes a wide shot of the infield, try to locate Pedroia.

Did you see him? He’s playing up the middle, and is fairly close to the second base bag. You’ll notice that immediately after the ball was hit, he starts breaking toward first to cover the throw. He knew exactly where he needed to be on the play.

It’s a solid reminder to those youngsters out there currently learning the game. Look, we’ve all taken part in baseball practice at one point in our lives. We understand some drills might be boring. But they do matter. This is a prime example.

No one goes home bragging about how well they covered first base at practice. But when those repetitions lead to an unreal play like this, you’ll know that hard work paid off.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!