Dustin Pedroia said in a lengthy interview with The Sacramento Bee this morning that he was only joking when he called his hometown of Woodland "a dump" and that his comments were taken out of context.
The Boston Red Sox infielder and the American League MVP in 2008 said the seven-page Boston Magazine story unfairly portrayed him as a bitter, angry athlete. He said he was joking when he said "everyone wants to get out of (Woodland). The place (stinks)."
Busy fielding calls and text messages from Woodland family and friends, Pedroia said he hardly slept Thursday.
He phoned The Bee from an Anaheim hotel room as the Red Sox prepared to play the Angels beginning today for a three-game series. The Red Sox visit the A's Monday for the start of a three-game series in Oakland.
"I'm totally crushed by this, devastated, because I didn't mean it that way at all," Pedroia said. "The (Boston Magazine) writer doesn't know my personality. I kid around a lot, and that's what I was doing when I was talking about Woodland.
"That town raised me. I grew up there. I rode my bike there. I played high school ball there. Loved all of it. My family and best friends are still there. I love going home. This article made me seem like a jerk, and I'm not."
The writer of the piece, freelancer Tommy Craggs, could not be reached for comment.
Pedroia said the one-on-one interview was held Feb. 10. Pedroia said Craggs asked him about Woodland and what it was like during their wide-ranging interview.
Pedroia said today that he was trying to have fun with his response, as Woodland teens for years have cracked that everyone wants to leave a small town for a bigger one.
"I was laughing when I said all that, and saying, 'Yeah, why would anyone want to be there?'" Pedroia said. "I wasn't serious. I regret that this happened. I learned that I need to be more careful."
Pedroia did say he is "upset" with the Woodland Daily Democrat and The Sacramento Bee for the news coverage of his brother's Jan. 9 arrest. Brett Pedroia is alleged to have had sexual activity with a minor.
Pedroia said he believes the Boston Magazine piece tried to spin it that he was angry at his town in general, "and that's not true."
Pedroia told The Bee today that he is still trying to understand why the media linked him to his brother's arrest - "Pedroia, older brother of Red Sox player Dustin Pedroia ... "
But he realizes fame comes with a cost.
"I'm definitely upset with the Woodland paper for my name being in those stories," Pedroia said. "I felt like I was being dragged through it and I didn't think it was fair. I didn't deserve that. And I can be emotional and fiery, and people know that.
"It bothers me about the paper. But as for the city of Woodland, that's my town."
Pedroia also denied that he called Alex Rodriguez "a dork," as he was quoted in the story.
"Come on, dude," Pedroia said. "I never said that."