I nearly died two days ago when Kevin Youkilis left the game on July 6th. I was ready to sign my organ donor form, jump off a cliff, and give what remaining working body parts I have to the Boston Red Sox, since nothing else seems to work.
The Red Sox have just been swept for the first time since the awkward sweep by the Orioles on April 30-May 2. It seems the injuries caught up to the Sox a little bit for this series, as they just could not catch a break. Now back in third place in the division, 4.5 games out, the Sox head into their final series before the all star break. Fortunately, it is a matchup with the Blue Jays and John Lester is pitching in the series. Winning 2/3 in this series would be a great way to head into the break, all things considered.
There is some light on the horizon though! A faint, candle size light, about 10 miles away but it is there. Dead Red Sox will start returning from the grave soon. Clay Buchholz appears to be on track to make a start in the Texas series immediately following the All Star Break. Josh Beckett is throwing in simulated games and looks to return the week following Buchholz. Having both of these guys back will be a huge help, and a relief on the bullpen. If they are back and pitching like they both can, we can win more games when the lineup, patched together with band-aids and duct tape, doesn’t magically score 5 runs.
Martinez is listed as a probable return after the All Star break as well, which is very exciting. This is not only a huge lineup boost but a return to normal for all the pitchers who have developed any sort of routine with him behind the plate. This is especially valuable since Jason Varitek is out into August.
Also exciting, is that both Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida are listed as possibly returning late July. Now, I am no medical expert, nor do I really know the extent of their broken ribs, but broken ribs are a pretty serious deal. It wouldn’t surprise me if these guys were back in early August instead. If they beat that I can only be excited instead of disappointed. August also brings back the broken feet boys, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek.
Now there is no denying that the most recent sweep hurt, but it in no way hurts the chances of a playoff run. We are half way through the season, and it is certainly not out of the question for this team to make an August/September push for a berth.
Other All Star Notes:
Very classy move by MLB, players, team managers, or whoever else had a hand in naming Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez to the all star team, knowing that they would not play due to injury. They very easily could have been skipped over with replacements made right off the bat (pun certainly intended.)
Buchholz will not pitch in the game either, but that was up in the air at the time of selection. I am more or less glad he will not be, as I don’t want to push an injury. As far as the rest of the Sox participating, I am a little nervous about Ortiz in the Home Run derby. The potential for a power outage afterwards is there, but as Prince Fielder showed last year (24 HR post-HR derby 2009) there is no guarantee of one.
On the flip side, I do like the idea of him being there, as it could quite possibly be the last All Star Game and HR Derby that David Ortiz ever participates in. Ortiz will probably get two at bats in the game after Vladimir Guerrero gets two at bats in. I hope he puts on a show, gets a big fat smile all over his face, and goes back to hitting well after the break. The other selection I like a lot is Adrian Beltre getting his first appearance. Beltre is less likely to get an at bat due to A-Rod being on the Roster, but could get up to the plate in the late innings if the AL has gone through the lineup a few times. DH, 3B, or pinch-hitter are all places he could fit in, but probably not for more than 1 at bat.
Lester will likely pitch 2 innings of the game; I view him as the most logical choice to replace David Price when he comes out followed by either Cliff Lee or CC Sabathia. No issues there. It’s not a full start so I find it hard to see him injuring himself.
Kevin Youkilis is the wild card here. Voting closes at 4:00 PM. I can go either way on this one. I would love to see the guy honored, but especially with his recent almost-injury I wouldn’t mind Youk getting a rest. The guy plays the game so hard day in and day out it must take a toll on his body. Go lie down, fall asleep for 48 hours and then go get a massage. Rest my friend, we need you.