Red Sox Continue to Overcome Injuries to Key Players
Ortiz injured his Achilles tendon while rounding second base during a three-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth inning of Boston’s 5-1 victory over Chicago at Fenway Park on Monday night. Multiple media reports indicate an MRI done today revealed that Ortiz did not tear or rupture his Achilles tendon, and that team sources said he would not be placed on the DL.
This is good news for the Red Sox, if Ortiz is indeed not seriously injured. The slugger is hitting .316 with 23 home runs and 58 RBI, and he has been the lone consistent member of the lineup all season. Likely, Ortiz will miss at least a few games, which is wise considering that an Achilles tendon injury can sideline a player for an extended period. Just ask the Phillies about Ryan Howard.
Even if Ortiz’s Achilles tendon is not ruptured or torn, it wold make sense to be cautious and place him on the 15-day DL. The Red Sox should have done the same after Dustin Pedroia suffered a torn adductor muscle in his thumb earlier this season.
Instead, they played short-handed for a week while he rested the injury, he returned and struggled at the plate, and eventually he landed on the DL with another injury to the same thumb.Pedroia’s thumb injuries are reportedly healed and he is expected to rejoin the Red Sox active roster on Thursday.
Carl Crawford, who made his regular season debut on Monday against the White Sox (going 1-for-3), and switch-hitting outfielder Daniel Nava will likely share time as the short-term DH while Ortiz rests his Achilles heel. Crawford is playing with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.
Jacoby Ellsbury, the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player runner-up, was activated from the 60-day DL last Friday for the series at Tampa Bay. He had been out since late April when he separated his shoulder while sliding into second base in a game against the Rays at Fenway Park.
In August, the Red Sox expect the return of projected closer Andrew Bailey (who underwent thumb surgery in spring training) and left-hander Rich Hill, both of whom will bolster an already solid bullpen.
Clay Buchholz rejoined the Red Sox last Saturday after a DL stint with esophagitis. His presence is crucial to Boston’s playoff hopes. Aaron Cook, who was activated from the DL on June 24, has a 2-1 record and a 1.67 ERA, including a complete game shutout at Seattle and seven shutout frames last night, in four starts.
The Red Sox also were hampered by injuries to Kevin Youkilis, who missed time and then was ineffective at the plate and in the field before he was traded to the White Sox earlier this month. His replacement, 23-year-old rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, missed a stretch of games a few days after Youkilis was traded.
Boston’s top overall prospect entering the season, Middlebrooks returned for the Tampa Bay series, belting a two-run home run in Friday’s win and lining a two-run single in Sunday’s victory.
Though the injury to Ortiz will especially hurt if he is lost for a prolonged period, the Red Sox have been respectable considering the volume of injured players – including difference makers like Ellsbury, Crawford, Pedroia and Buchholz.
It could be worse. Boston is 9.5 games behind the Yankees in the American League East standings, but it sits just a game in back of Baltimore for the second wild card spot and three games behind the Angels for the top wild card position.
It is the health of Ortiz, Ellsbury, Pedroia and the pitching staff that will determine if the Red Sox secure a wild card berth.