Like the Dodgers that he tormented, Steve Pearce has put 2018 behind – Press Enterprise

This time, Steve Pearce is at a safe distance.

He is at home in Tampa, sometimes hunting deer in North Florida, fishing, hanging out with his kids, watching baseball only if he’s exhausted a long list of better things to do.

He will not be bringing destiny’s bat from the on-deck circle and enjoying the week of his life, as he did for Boston in the 2018 World Series, at the Dodgers’ expense.

“I tell everybody, I picked a great time to get hot,” Pearce said. “I don’t really look back at it that often. Being in the World Series after having a journeyman career, reaching the pinnacle of baseball, and then just ending it there … it’s everything you wanted it to be.”

Few have jumped on a stage, dominated it and then disappeared so quickly. Pearce hit three home runs in the five-game Boston victory, and he walked four times in 16 plate appearances.

On a team that featured Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale and David Price, he was the Series MVP, only the second one who had been traded to the championship-winning club during the season (Donn Clendenon, Mets, 1969).

One forgets that the Dodgers were in position to push that series to the limit. They had won in 18 innings to cut Boston’s lead to 2-1. In Game 4, they led 4-0 after six innings. Then the Dodgers removed starting pitcher Rich Hill with one out in the seventh. Sirens blared like dog whistles, heard only by Dodger fans.

Mitch Moreland swatted a three-run homer off Ryan Madison with two outs. In the eighth Pearce foiled the plan to get two innings out of Kenley Jansen, tying it with another homer.

In the ninth Pearce scorched a three-run double off Kenta Maeda, and the Red Sox’s 9-6 win made it a 3-1 series.

It ended the next night when Pearce homered off Clayton Kershaw in the first inning and did the same off Pedro Baez in the eighth. Boston won, 5-1, as the final six Dodgers struck out.

Two years ago, and it seems Pleistocene. These Dodgers have replaced fragility with tenacity. The wrong person to evaluate all that is Pearce, who played only 29 games in 2019 and was out of ball, mercifully, this season.

But he will testify for Betts.

“I used to think he had a vendetta against me,” Pearce said. “I played for Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Toronto and we’d play Boston all the time, and there wasn’t a game when he didn’t have a couple of hits, or made a great play in the outfield, doing damage in some way. Then I came to the Red Sox and I saw he was doing the same things to everybody else.

“I played for parts of 13 years in the majors and he’s the best player I ever played with. You know what you’re getting with him every day. He shows respect for everybody, talks to people, has fun. That’s the best part of it. If you lose, you pick up your stuff and get ’em tomorrow.”

Pearce was a first baseman/outfielder who rarely got a full-time gig, but he did spin a few hits before 2018. In Baltimore, he had a .930 OPS in 2014, with 21 of his career 91 home runs.

On June 28 of the magic year, Toronto shipped him to Boston for prospect Santiago Espinal. Suddenly Pearce was on a team headed for a 108-win season and was hitting in the No. 3 spot during the playoffs, against left-handers.

“My role was dug out for me,” he said.

You’ve heard about the journey being more fulfilling than the destination? The journeyman disagrees.