Gold Glove Workouts: Upper-Body Strength Training with Boston Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia

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The Rawlings Gold Glove Award is the greatest measure of defensive excellence in Major League Baseball. While much has changed since the award was introduced in 1957, one thing has remained the same: defense continues to win games.

What defense is to Rawlings, Dustin Pedroia is to his team. Pedroia is the heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox, dating back to 2007, when he was named American League Rookie of the Year and the Red Sox won the World Series.

Dustin Pedroia fielding a ground ball.

Pedroia shows the form that led to his second Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

Pedroia has been a model of consistency both offensively and defensively. They say that showing up is half the battle, and Pedroia's steadfast presence in the Boston lineup is a big reason why he regained the Rawlings AL Gold Glove when the awards were announced Tuesday, Nov. 1 (He won his first Rawlings Gold Glove in 2008).

In 2011, no second baseman started and played in more games than Pedroia. In 159 games, he committed only seven errors (one error every 23 games), and he accounted for 13 Defensive Runs Saved.

His defensive statistics were solid, but as Christina Kahrl of ESPN's SweetSpot Blog opines, "One obvious factor in his favor would be his durability and regularity at the keystone [position]."

Says Pedroia, "If I'm in the lineup, I'm going to play as hard as I can and try to help our team. That's been my mentality ever since I got called up. That's how I'm going to be successful, and I have to try to keep that mindset every season."

Except for an injury-shortened 2010 season, Pedroia has missed only 39 games in four full seasons in the big leagues. His durability can be credited to the baseball-specific workouts he uses to get stronger and prevent injuries—including upper-body strength exercises such as the Rotational Cable Row, Weighted Neutral Grip Pull-Up and X Pull Down, which he performs in the off-season.

The following pulling exercises target the back, shoulders and core. Perform this sequence, along with pushing exercises such as Push-Ups and DB Bench Presses, for a more balanced upper-body workout. (Learn why you should perform more pulling exercises.)

Rotational Cable Row

  • With cable machine to right, assume athletic stance with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Reach across body with left hand, turning hips and shoulders to cable machine, to hold handle set at low position
  • Explosively rotate hips left and bring handles across body to above and outside left shoulder
  • Return to start position and repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set on opposite side

Sets/Reps: 2x10 each side

Coaching Points: Turn shoulders toward and away from cable machine with each rep // Finish with hips pointed away from weight stack after each rep

Dustin Pedroia performs a Rotational Cable Row.

Weighted Neutral Grip Pull-Up

  • With weight attached to belt around waist, grab neutral-grip pull-up bar with palms facing each other
  • Perform Pull-Up until chin is above bar
  • Lower with control until arms are almost straight
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x8

Coaching Points: Maintain vertical body position // Keep back straight // Do not use momentum to perform Pull-Up // Keep elbows slightly bent at bottom of Pull-Up

Dustin Pedroia performs a Weighted Pull-Up.

X Pull Down

  • Kneel in front of cable crossover machine (or between cable machines), cross arms and grasp opposite handles with each hand
  • Without arching back, retract shoulder blades, pull elbows to side of body, then straighten and externally rotate arms in fluid motion so thumbs point back
  • Return to start position and repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2x10

Coaching Points: Use shoulder blades, not arms, to initiate movement // Keep core tight, chest up and head straight // Get chest as big as possible in finished position

Dustin Pedroia performs the X Pull Down.

Photos: //Scott Wachter

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock