Mariano Rivera says he would take Dustin Pedroia over Robinson Cano in his new book

Mariano Rivera says he'd take Dustin Pedroia if he could pick any second baseman

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Jul 15, 2013; Flushing , NY, USA; American League infielder Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees talks with infielder Dustin Pedroia (15) of the Boston Red Sox during the American League workout day for the 2013 All Star Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY SportsThe Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is one of the best in baseball, and arguably all of sports. The tension between the two AL East powerhouses is palpable.

Still, when Yankees legend Mariano Rivera wrote a post-retirement book, he spoke incredibly highly of a Red Sox player, who has been a thorn in the Yankees' side for years.

Rivera was discussing Robinson Cano, his teammate of 9 seasons in New York:
"This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start… There is no doubt that he is a Hall-of-Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best… You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players. If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman."

That's awful telling, when a player like Rivera chooses a Red Sox player over Cano, a long-time teammate.

Cano is undoubtedly a supremely talented player, but the knock on him for years was that he dogs it sometimes. He doesn't always run out ground balls, he doesn't have the "dirt dog" mentality of a guy like Pedroia, and he doesn't always play at 100%.

Jul 14, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA;  Representatives from Majestic Athletics present New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera (42) and second baseman Robinson Cano (24) with their all star jerseys before the game against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY SportsWhether that's a legit complaint is up for debate, since Cano's actual production has been greater than any second baseman in his era. Should he really be faulted for a perceived lack of effort, when he's still putting up numbers as good as (or better than) anyone at his position?

Rivera's comments shouldn't necessarily be taken as an insult to Cano, whom he acknowledges is one of the great players in the game.

It's really just a testament to the greatness of Pedroia, who has proven since he won the Rookie of the Year in 2007 that he's willing to do whatever it takes to win, and he'll always give his team a fighting chance.
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