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Martinez may have caught break

Toe injury doesn’t appear serious

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 25, 2010

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It would seem almost impossible for a righthanded batter to foul a ball of the left foot of a catcher. But in a split-second last night, the ball deflected off the bat of Tampa Bay’s Jason Bartlett in the second inning directly onto the big toe of Victor Martinez.

“The ball always finds a spot,’’ said Martinez, repeating the words of so many catchers.

The Red Sox were fortunate this time. Martinez left the game after drawing a walk in the third inning and limped to the dugout. But X-rays were negative and he may only miss a day or two.

“The news is really good,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “When we were watching him, he was hurting.’’

Francona said no roster move would be needed. Jason Varitek, who replaced Martinez last night and went 1 for 3 with two runs in a 6-1 victory against the Rays, will start tonight.

“I just want to see how it feels tomorrow. The only thing I can tell you is there’s pain,’’ Martinez said. “Hopefully it’s not going to take too long. We’ll see.’’

Martinez’s toenail was a shade of gray/green after the game, but his toe had returned to somewhat normal size after having the blood drained from it. He was given a shot to help dull the pain.

Accompanied by his 5-year-old son Victor, he left the clubhouse wearing flip-flops and walking cautiously.

“I don’t think I could put on shoes right now,’’ he said.

Martinez has fouled a ball off that toe before but this was the first time an opposing batter had done it.

“You know what? I really wasn’t thinking about broken toes. It was just painful,’’ he said. “It hit me straight into my toe. I tried to stay in, but it was just getting worse. There was a lot of pain.’’

The alternative was not something the Red Sox wanted to consider. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was hit on the right foot by a foul tip earlier this month and will be out 3-4 weeks because of a hairline fracture.

“I know it could have been worse,’’ Martinez said.

In case you were wondering, it seems Bill Hall is the emergency catcher. He warmed up the pitchers when needed before innings. Mike Lowell also volunteered.

“When somebody says, ‘I’ll do it,’ that’s good enough for me,’’ Francona said. “I never would laugh at somebody getting hit. Victor is hurting. But you kind of see some of the personality of guys coming out when that happens and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Billy Hall was putting his hat on backward.’’

Lowell said he donned shin guards a few times when he played for the Marlins in 2005 and was ready to go.

“Oh, hell yeah,’’ said Lowell. “I figure that puts me right around fourth-string catcher.’’

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