The Boston Red Sox nearly encountered another detrimental injury in yesterday's matchup against the Detroit Tigers. After a diving play in the fifth inning, Dustin Pedroia exited the game with what was diagnosed as a jammed right thumb, according to MLB.com's Ian Browne.
Based on this tweet from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes, the injury shouldn't be too serious:
Valentine says doesn't expect Pedroia to play tomorrow; teammates say they wouldn't be surprised if he does. Apparently not bad.
— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) May 28, 2012
As of now, the Red Sox are extremely lucky that Pedroia shouldn't miss too much time. If you remember, Kevin Youkilis had a somewhat similar issue two seasons ago.
According to ESPNBoston.com's Steven Krasner, Youkilis tried to play with a sore thumb for around two weeks. After an at-bat, he was in so much pain that he was forced to exit the game. An MRI later showed a torn muscle in Youkilis' thumb that required season-ending surgery.
This season is already very reminiscent of that 2010 campaign. Boston started the season poorly and then started to get hot in May and June. By the time Youkilis went down, Boston sat in third place, chasing the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays, and they would eventually miss the postseason.
Would a long-term injury to Dustin Pedroia be the dagger to Boston's playoff hopes?
Another major similarity from that year was the amount of injuries Boston had suffered. In 2010, Jacoby Ellsbury only played in 18 games, Dustin Pedroia spent a lot of time on the disabled list with his foot injury, Victor Martinez missed 35 games, and Mike Cameron missed most of the season. Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka also missed time during the year.
This season, Boston has also had several injuries to key players. Ellsbury has missed most of the season with a dislocated shoulder, Carl Crawford, Andrew Bailey and Matsuzaka have yet to play in the majors, and John Lackey is out for the season with Tommy John surgery. Nearly every one of Boston's outfielders, including Cody Ross, has been injured this season as well.
The Red Sox are down to their last couple of replacements and are just getting by with them. Their lack of depth has been so severe that Adrian Gonzalez has been playing in the outfield. Obviously, this is also due to the first-base dilemma between Youkilis and Gonzalez.
The bottom line is that Boston can't afford to lose Pedroia long term. He's hitting .295/.350/.450 with five home runs, 21 RBI and 30 runs, and he has started all 48 games for the Red Sox this season.
Behind Pedroia, there's really only veteran Nick Punto, who has been horrendous at the plate this season. If Pedroia is going to miss some time, Boston could be forced to call up prospect Jose Iglesias to play shortstop and move Mike Aviles to second base in the interim.
Without Dustin Pedroia in the lineup and with the long list of injuries for the Red Sox, there's no way that Boston makes the playoffs.
Boston has been playing well as of late, but a long-term injury to Pedroia could be the final blow.