Leave it to the Red Sox' fate this season to somehow mar what was arguably the most entertaining game of the 2012 season last night. After all, it took all of four or five seconds for David Ortiz to come up limp while rounding second on Adrian Gonzalez's game-winning, three-run home run over the wall in left. And so on a night when Fenway Park welcomed Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury back into its good graces, the Red Sox appear primed to lose their All-Star slugger for a period of time.
"This (expletive) team is cursed," Ortiz said after Boston's 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Hindsight and all, but wouldn't it be nice to have the luxury of that other guy who returned to Boston slide into that DH slot for a couple days?
We get it, it's over, move on. But how much worse does the Kevin Youkilis trade look just weeks later, not only because of his increased production for the White Sox, but the fact that the Red Sox had to designate Brent Lillibridge for assignment Monday to make room for Crawford? In the end, the Sox have only pitcher Zach Stewart (1-1, 3.74 ERA at Pawtucket) to show for the deal. Neat.
Manager Bobby Valentine didn't seem too concerned about the injury to Ortiz's Achilles' tendon, but then again, Ellsbury was due to be out, what, 4-5 weeks after injuring his shoulder? He returned last Friday, some 12 weeks later. Then again, Dustin Pedroia wasn't placed on the 15-day disabled list with a thumb injury last month, electing to play through it before ... being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a thumb injury on July 6.
Days turned into weeks in those instances, something the Red Sox can hardly afford with their most productive player during this challenging stretch. After this week's series against the first-place White Sox, Boston closes out the month with series against the first-place Rangers, the first-place Yankees, and the Detroit Tigers, who could very well be in first (2 ½ behind Chicago in the AL Central; 8-2 in their last 10 games) by the time July 30-Aug. 1 rolls around. Of course, smack dab in the middle of that series happens to be the trading deadline, what could possibly be the buy or sell pivot that helps define this franchise for the immediate future.
If these Sox want to keep the band together, they sure have one difficult road to travel.
So far, so good coming out of the break, as the Sox have started the second half 3-1, Gonzalez leading the way with a 1.375 OPS (over only three games, of course after tweaking his back saying hello to a kid at a mall and missing Saturday's game vs. the Rays). Coincidentally, Gonzalez's home run last night was his first since the day general manager Ben Cherington
gave dealt Youkilis to the White Sox, and if Ortiz is out for any extended period of time, the slugger simply can't go more than three weeks with a power outage of the same ilk.
Ortiz is scheduled for an MRI today, with the hope that the injury would keep him out only a few days. Mind you, when Ortiz hurt his heel in 2010, he missed nine games. A similar stretch would have him return against the Yankees on July 27. Could be worse.
Could be better too. But the best solution to replace Ortiz is playing for the other side now.
Cursed? Nah. Just understand that when the Red Sox say "days," it often ends up multiplying into something far longer. Just as we were getting used to having the varsity back, too.