UPDATE, 6:07 p.m.: Theo Epstein just said that Youkilis has a torn adductor muscle and that the head of one of the muscles ruptured.
Epstein said it was not clear how long Youkilis would be out or whether he would need surgery. They're waiting for him to see another specialist after be was examined today by Dr. Matthew Leibman at Mass General.
They hope to get an answer in the next few days.
He indicated that the Yankees were the only team interested in obtaining Lowell. "It would not have been an easy thing to do," Epstein said.
Dr. George Kasparyan, the director of hand surgery for the Lahey Clinic, spoke to the Globe's Kay Lazar about some possibilities regarded Youkilis's situation. Kasparyan has consulted for the Red Sox on other hand injuries
“I understand why they are being conservative and careful," he said. "If he theoretically continued to play he could further injury it and it would turn into a chronic problem where the tissue is less amenable to repair. We call it attritional –the tissue becomes thinner and thinner and the tissue loses its integrity and its repairability."
Kasparyan was generally optimistic regarding surgery to repair an adductor tear:
"It would probably go quite well, although much depends on the exact location," he said. "If the muscle is pulled off the bone it's quite amendable to repair, because we use a technique called a suture anchor technique. we embed small metal bars into the bone and attached to that are stitches. We sew the tendon, which is attached to the muscle, to the bone. That's easier than a muscle tendon junction tear---when it tears between the muscle and tendon. It's more challenging but it can be done."
Dr. Andrew L. Terrono, the chief of hand surgery at New England Baptist hospital, has operated on the Celtics players including Glen Davis, Tony Allen, and Marquis Daniels this past season.
While emphasizing -- as Kasparyan did -- that he has no direct knowledge of Youkilis's injury and is speaking from what he he knows from information released by the Red Sox publicly, Terrono said that a thumb adductor tear from a sports injury is so unusual he can't recall seeing this in the 25 years he has been specializing in hand surgery.
"If its partially torn, it could be healed without surgery," Terrano said. "A lot of it depends on where it's torn … and how much of a gap is between the two ends of the tear.
"If it's partially torn you usually don’t do anything for it but immobilize it and put it in a cast.
Terrano said It would be at least six weeks before someone with a partial adductor tear would be able to return to play, but without knowing the specifics of Youkilis tear its hard to pinpoint the exact amount of time he might miss, he said.
UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: Terry Francona just met with the media. Youkilis had a MRI at Mass General this morning and was found to have a torn muscle in his thumb that could require surgery.
Doctors are uncertain about the extent of the injury but it's serious enough that Youkilis would risk a more severe injury by playing. Youkilis will get another opinion soon.
"They're searching for some answers because this is, I think, quite rare," Francona said. "How it happened is a little hard to explain. ... In the meantime, there's no way we're going to let him play and take a swing and hurt his career. That's why he's on the disabled list. There's a chance maybe in two weeks hopefully it scars up a little bit [and] he feels good enough to play and be productive."
Youkilis was injured during his first at-bat on Monday when he was jammed by a pitch and lined to shortstop.
"If he did some damage and pulled that muscle off the bone, then you're looking at a surgery that's very difficult," Francona said. "If this led to a surgery now, it's certainly fixable. We don't want to get into an area where we do something that becomes career-threatening. That would not be conscientious on our part."
Youkilis is hitting .307/.411/.564 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs. His loss for any length of time is a huge blow. Given the fragile state of the team, it could be the final straw.
"Youk's a great player. I can't see it being a good thing," Francona said. "But we'll see. When guys get hurt, I think what it does is your margin for error is less. We've seen that in a few games. Hopefully we won't make errors."
Lowell has not played in a major-league game since June 22. He is hitting .213/.308/.350 and will not be able to play every day because of his chronic right hip soreness. Victor Martinez and Jed Lowrie are the other first basemen on the roster.
Up until yesterday, the Red Sox were endeavoring to remove Lowell from the roster by trade or release. Now he's in the lineup.
"It's been an interesting ride," Francona said.
Francona said the recent discussions with Lowell should remain private. But there have been a series of meetings over the last few days. As of last night, indications were that Lowell had played his last game for the Red Sox.
Now he's the first baseman and could be for a while. What a strange season this has been.
UPDATE, 4:05 p.m.: Kevin Youkilis to the disabled list. According to a source familiar with the injury, Youkilis has a torn muscle in his right thumb. We're waiting on Terry Francona.
No word yet on the corresponding move.