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Injury Hell, We Know You So Well

This man has no business in a Red Sox uniform. I'm glad this man is in a Red Sox uniform.
This man has no business in a Red Sox uniform. I'm glad this man is in a Red Sox uniform.

Here we are again talking about injuries. The Red Sox seem to have an outsized injury problem, or maybe a decade-sized, but it's there. Thirteen players are currently on the team's Disabled List. It was 14 but Kevin Youkilis has rejoined us. Seven of the wounded are outfielders and a different subset of seven are on the 60 day DL. It's been tough sledding. Yesterday's outfield of Scott Podsednik, Daniel Nava, and Adrian Gonzalez with Che-Hsuan Lin stepping in as a late inning defensive replacement (and making a play worth of the role) represents the bottom of the barrel.

It also represents a laughably odd group of guys. Podsednik was a Lehigh Valley Iron Pig and hadn't played in the majors for almost two years. Gonzalez is a first baseman and a slow one at that. Nava was an independent league player before catching on with the Sox and then eventually getting designated for assignment and kicked off the 40 man roster. He stayed with Boston because nobody else wanted him.

And you thought seeing Jason Repko in the starting lineup was bad*.

*You were right.

This all reminds me of 2006 when the entire team got injured in August and a first place team turned into a playoff spectator.. Or 2010 when the same thing happened... Or 2011 when... well, if you don't know, I sure as heck won't tell you. I'm probably forgetting a year or six as well.

So, this seems to be a reoccurring problem, the weight of which is hard to place on any one person or group. That's not to say nobody is at fault, just that there's been so many injuries over such a long period of time that so many different people have their hands in the soup ("Hey! Take your damn hands out of the soup!") that blaming anyone or anything too specific is tough. (That's not to say we won't manage.)

This year the team has enjoyed the following:

  • A middle infielder fall on Jacoby Ellsbury's shoulder during a routine slide into second base to break up a double play
  • A pitcher collide with an opposing player and injure... his thumb?
  • A pitcher get spiked so that there appears to be an open mouth on his shin.
  • Bobby Jenks being Bobby Jenksish
  • Two starters continue rehabbing from Tommy John surgery
  • One of those two starters who were continuing to rehab from Tommy John surgery get hurt again
  • An outfielder make a great catch! And give himself a concussion in the process!
  • A shortstop get eaten by a bear... during a game!
  • An outfielder foul a ball off his foot breaking a bone in it (who knew feet had bones?)
  • other assorted surgeries

That's the potpourri of injuries right there. A bit of this, a bit of that, and a pinch of this other thing and before long you've got a delicious souffle. Or a DL the size of the dead sea scrolls.

The good news is it's only May so there's tons of time for the above players to return and make positive contributions to the 2012 Red Sox. Oh, and there's more good news too. The guys who have been filling in have been nuts.

Carl Crawford was supposed to man left field. He has suffered a number of injuries over the off season and hasn't been able to take the field. So left field at Fenway Park, the position manned by Yastrzemski, Williams, Rice, and Manny Ramirez was left to Darnell McDonald, Lars Anderson (for only one game), Cody Ross, and Daniel Nava. Mostly it was Ross though, but then he fouled a ball of his foot, something that happens about 60 times a game, but in this instance it was in just the right place that it broke a bone in his foot. That almost never happens. Emphasis on the "almost" part. *cough*PEDROIA*cough*

So the All Star with the huge salary was out and out and out some more. In stepped Darnell who hit a perfectly acceptable .209/.327/.442 in 14 games in left. Then McDonald got hurt and in came Cody Ross who hit .219/.242/.359*. Of course Ross got hurt, but fear not, because to the rescue comes... Daniel Nava? Yes, Daniel ".350/.491/.600" Nava. And that, together, gives us this .243/.337/.434, which is good for the tenth best left field performance by a team in baseball this season.

*This is by far the worst of Ross's slash lines by position. As a right fielder he hit .294/.422/.667 and in center he destroyed at .353/.429/.765 though in only 21 plate appearances.

No, Daniel Nava won't slug .600 the rest of the year. I mean, I hope he does, but I'm not putting any money on it. The point is, either through luck or design or a smidgen of both, the organization has put together a really deep roster. We've talked until we're red in the face (this is a Red Sox site, nobody gets blue in the face around here) about the Sox bullpen and how Mark Melancon who was thought to be if not the best then the second best reliever on the roster is stuck in Triple-A because there is no place to put him. Ditto for Junichi Tazawa. And Clayton Mortensen. It's kinda silly, actually, but there are all these guys who are good enough but can't contribute to the Red Sox right now because there just isn't a spot for them.

This is frustrating for them, I'm sure, but it's a nice problem to have from an organizational perspective. The outfield isn't like that. They don't have Matt Kemp stuck in Pawtucket hoping he gets a shot. But they do have Daniel Nava. And at some point in the future they'll have a healthy Carl Crawford, Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, Jacoby Ellsbury, and (just for kicks) Jason Repko.

Just one thing though. If you ever see all those guys about to go on board a boat together, please, stop them.