Our regular readers have probably been able to tell by now that I’m a Boston fan. I actually tried to hold off writing about the Red Sox injury problems hoping that I wouldn’t be called a whiner or a Masshole. So let me start by saying that I’m not crying about it, but it’s gotten to the point where it’s newsworthy. There always seems to be one or two teams each year in the MLB that get absolutely pummeled by injuries. With five injuries to Sox regulars in the span of one week — a week in which they had two off-days — Boston has officially become one of those teams.
On Thursday, we showed you video of Dustin Pedroia taking grounders from his knees in an attempt to stay sharp while nursing a broken foot. Friday morning, reports were surfacing that Jason Varitek will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken foot of his own, which wouldn’t be a big deal if starting catcher Victor Martinez wasn’t already on the shelf with a fractured thumb. The latest injury to Varitek prompted the Red Sox to bring back catcher Kevin Cash, who caught Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball for the Sox in ’07 and ’08. It hardly stops there, so I’ve compiled a list of the Red Sox 2010 injuries to give you a better idea of how out of control this thing has gotten.
Josh Beckett: It feels like Beckett isn’t even part of the team anymore. That probably stems from the fact that the Sox have been one of the hottest, if not the hottest, teams in baseball and their starting pitching has been particularly outstanding as of late. Beckett’s been out for about six weeks with back stiffness. He threw a side session last week and said he felt “fine,” so he should be back right after the All-Star break if not sooner.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Fractured his ribs early on and has managed to play in only nine games this season. Who knows when Ellsbury will return at this point? He’s a young player who is under the Red Sox control for the next three-and-a-half years, but he’s a Scott Boras guy now. What does that have to do with anything? It means he certainly isn’t going to rush back and play hurt. His stats would suffer if he struggled and deflated stats could lead to a free agent contract that’s worth a few less dollars in three years. I highly doubt he’ll be back before the All-Star break.
Dustin Pedroia: Out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. I can’t imagine a player who hates missing time more than Pedroia does. Being out is probably going to kill him more than it will the team’s success. With a guy like Dustin, don’t be surprised if 4-6 weeks means three or four. He’ll be back as soon as the doctor says he can put weight on the foot, even if it’s still in a boot.
Victor Martinez: Took two foul balls off his left thumb — the one in his catcher’s mitt (?) — last Sunday that resulted in a fracture. He has a splint on the thumb and while team doctors say he could probably play through the pain if he wanted to, Francona and his coaching staff opted to put him on the 15-day DL and let the swelling go down. He should return right when he’s eligible.
Jason Varitek: Kind of a mystery injury at this point, but he’s supposedly out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. That leaves the catching duties to Kevin Cash and Gustavo Molina (not related to the other Molinas), who was promoted from AAA Pawtucket when Martinez went down. Varitek almost collided with Beltre on Tuesday night but sources say he didn’t break the foot then. It could also be that Boston is trying to spare Beltre some embarrassment considering Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida both fractured their ribs colliding with the third baseman.
Clay Buchholz: It was originally thought that Buchholz hyperextended his knee. An MRI revealed a slight tear in his hamstring, which probably sounds more serious than it actually is. With the way Boston’s schedule is falling and the scheduled off days they’ve had, it looks like he’ll only have to miss one start and can avoid a DL stint.
Jeremy Hermida: Doesn’t seem like a significant loss at first glance, but he had been hitting the ball well for the Sox as a fourth — and often starting — outfielder. Mike Cameron has spent some time on the DL and J.D. Drew has been his usual banged-up self for a few games this season. Hermida, who has missed the past three weeks with broken ribs, was filling in admirably when those guys were hurt and his bat will help stabilize Boston’s lineup whenever he gets back.
Manny Delcarmen: Delcarmen drives me absolutely insane and I’ve never been able to understand Theo Epstein’s infatuation with him. That being said, Hideki Okajima is having a terrible season and Boston really only has two reliable arms in its bullpen in Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. Delcarmen just went on the DL with a forearm strain. If he can’t get healthy fast the Red Sox are going to need a bullpen arm desperately at the trade deadline. They’ll probably need one anyway.
That about wraps up the Sox list of casualties. Pretty impressive, to say the least. On top of the players that are currently out, Daisuke Matsuzaka has already spent two stints on the DL and history says he’ll be back. History also says J.D. Drew will need some time off at some point throughout the season. Somehow, Boston has managed to keep winning with admirable contributions from players like Bill Hall and Daniel Nava — the true underdog. If they don’t get some of these guys back in the near future, you have to assume the injuries will catch up to them at some point.
Varitek Out 4-6 Weeks With Broken Foot [WBZ]