Jacoby Ellsbury has left Boston’s home opener against the Rays on Friday in the bottom of the fourth after suffering an apparent arm or shoulder injury. Ellsbury collided with Rays shortstop Reid Brignac while trying to break up a double play.
Ryan Sweeney, sitting against Tampa Bay left-hander David Price, came into the game in his place.
Ellsbury slid in hard, upending Brignac, who came down backside-first on Ellsbury's right shoulder.
With Carl Crawford having experienced a possible setback in his recovery from wrist surgery and former top prospect Ryan Kalish still working his way back from shoulder surgery, the Sox are already thin in the outfield. Sweeney and Cody Ross, who are supposed to platoon, are already playing more than is useful, while the more you see of Darnell McDonald, the less valuable he is.
Even if these players were more versatile, there is simply no replacing Ellsbury, who might have won last year’s MVP award over Justin Verlander had Boston not fallen out of the postseason.
Sox fans were already twitchy over this season beginning the way the last one ended, but that was an understandable overreaction. Any injury that keeps Ellsbury off the field for more than the shortest of DL stints would legitimize those worries.
In short, panic may now be justified—everyone over the side, women and children first, and Yankees, you can start printing playoff tickets…
…Unless Ellsbury is okay, and let’s hope he is—the American League is more fun with him in it. Watch this space for updates.
UPDATE: The Red Sox have confirmed that Ellsbury suffered a right shoulder injury, with further tests pending.