Boston Red Sox center fielder and leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury has left the game against the Tampa Bay Rays with a right shoulder injury. It appeared the Rays' shortstop Reid Brignac fell on Ellsbury when the Sox' center fielder was sliding into second on a ground ball by Dustin Pedroia.
With the team scuffling to a 1-5 start to begin the 2012 season, the Sox can ill-afford an injury to their emerging star. Ellsbury was the Sox' best all-around offensive player last season, hitting .321 with 32 home runs, 105 RBI and 39 steals.
Though he had gotten off to a bad start this season (3 for 27 with no steals), Ellsbury had just shown signs of awakening at the plate—he reached base twice in the series finale against Toronto and had already recorded two hits and an RBI this afternoon.
With the team already weathering an injury to Carl Crawford, any significant time missed by Ellsbury would deal a serious blow to the already sputtering Sox offense. An outfield of Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney and Darnell McDonald would not exactly strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers.
Ellsbury's defense would be missed as well; last season, he took home his first Gold Glove and provided several highlight-reel plays. While the Sox may be able to replace the defensive stats Ellsbury provides, the confidence he instills in his pitchers cannot be replicated.
Sox fans will be holding their breath as they await word on any prognosis for Ellsbury.