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07/12/09 9:02 PM ET

Pedroia bows out of All-Star Game

Red Sox star cites need to tend to family health issue

BOSTON -- Reigning American League MVP Dustin Pedroia will not participate in the 2009 All-Star Game on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

AL manager Joe Maddon replaced the Red Sox's second baseman on the roster on Sunday with Rays first baseman Carlos Pena.

Pedroia, who edged out Ian Kinsler of the Rangers in the fan vote for the starting slot at second base in a tight race, withdrew from the event due to a family situation.

Pedroia's wife, Kelli, who is due to deliver the couple's first child -- a boy -- in late August, was taken to an area hospital on Monday after going into labor earlier than expected. She will remain hospitalized for the foreseeable future.

"After consulting with [Red Sox manager Terry Francona], [Red Sox general manager] Theo [Epstein], Phyllis Merhige of Major League Baseball and my wife, Kelli, I have decided to withdraw from this year's All-Star Game in St. Louis," Pedroia, who is batting .303 this season with four home runs, 40 RBIs and 14 stolen bases, said in a statement. "I will instead stay in Boston with my wife as we tend to a serious family health matter."

It was not a decision that Pedroia, the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year, reached hastily.

"This is obviously a tough time for me and my wife," Pedroia said. "We're just trying to deal with it the best we can. Obviously, I've got to be with my wife right now. That's more important. I'm extremely honored to be selected by the fans. I wish I could be there, but I hope everybody understands.

"I'm disappointed that I won't be able to enjoy the amazing experience with the other All-Stars, especially my Red Sox teammates, but it's important that I put my family first at this time. I want to thank Major League Baseball, as well as Tito and Theo, for supporting me in this decision. I would like to thank the fans for their understanding and the continued support they have shown throughout my career."

After a week of discussing the pros and cons of going to St. Louis, Pedroia reached a verdict following a meeting with Francona on Saturday.

"I sat him down and said, 'Pedey, look, what's the worst-case scenario if you don't go to the All-Star Game?'" Francona said. "He said, 'Well, I'd be mad.' I said, 'If you go and Kelli is not ...' Then he said, 'I can't go,' which I agreed with.

"I think he's been stressing about it, and I think Kelli's been stressing about it. It's not something he took remotely lightly at all. I know it's the right decision, because you can't predict the future, it's the only decision."

The strain of a trying personal matter hasn't affected the on-field play of Pedroia, who has five multihit games -- including three three-knock efforts -- in his past seven contests. His eighth-inning RBI double on Friday night proved to be the difference in Boston's 1-0 victory over Kansas City.

"When he gets on the field, he has an amazing ability to play the game," Francona said. "Regardless of what's going on, he's a good player. I'm sure he's been thinking about other things at times, but he's just a real good player."

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.

John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.