The Boston Red Sox are finally finding their stride and are winners of five of their last six, six of their last eight and 16 of their last 22 games.
That being said, this has been accomplished on the heels of a cut-and-paste lineup from day to day.
There are 11 players on the Red Sox disabled list as we speak, nine of which were expected to be on the Opening Day roster in some form or another. Now, this has proven to be a bumpy ride for the Sox, but fans have learned a lot about the youth and resiliency of the club.
Had Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury not gone down to injury, we may not have had the opportunity to see Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava produce at a high level. The same can be said for Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks.
With that in mind, the cavalry is set to return as the team digs in for the month of June. Here is a look at every player listed on the Red Sox disabled list with the most recent information regarding their respective returns.
Okay, so Dustin Pedroia is not officially on the DL; however, there was speculation going in to the weekend that he may be placed there.
That being said, is there any other player on earth who looks more upset at having to sit out a baseball game than Pedroia?
In what I think will be an oh-so-very-Pedey move, he's going to just rub some dirt on it and play, so to speak.
Pedroia took batting practice in Toronto for the first time since tearing a muscle in his thumb. This bodes well for the All-Star second baseman.
Odds are, knowing the type of player Pedroia is, he will not hit the DL and will play through the pain unless his doctors inform him that surgery is absolutely required. I expect him back within the next week or so.
He has already had a special brace molded for him to allow for batting with minimal impact on the tear should he decide to tough it out.
Andrew Bailey injured the ulnar collateral ligament of his right hand at the very end of spring training, leaving the Red Sox in a bit of a scramble for a closer.
He did require surgery to repair it. The injury was not season-ending, but it did throw a curveball (pun intended) to the Sox's plans.
Bailey did begin throwing again within the past 10 days. Providing that he can build up his velocity and essentially have a shortened "spring training" of his own with a few appearances in Pawtucket, it is likely the team will see him at the end of June/early July.
Fact: Aaron Cook came to the Red Sox and tore it up with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Fans were clamoring for him to be brought in to the starting rotation as the team was struggling. After a much anticipated debut, Cook lasted about three innings before suffering a gash on his right knee.
Since then, the vibe has been pretty quiet on the Cook front.
While he has been on the 15-day DL since May 6th, I get the feeling that the team may ultimately release him, unfortunately. A lot of this will depend on the recovery of Daisuke Matsuzaka in all likelihood.
That said, a gash on one's knee takes about three weeks or so to heal properly. If Cook will be returning to the team/organization in any fashion, news should be breaking within the next week or so of such a move.
Carl Crawford is another player who should be rejoining the team by the All-Star break.
It was back in April that Crawford was unable to throw and had severe pain in his wrist. This was actually a torn unilateral ligament, an injury that has required rest and therapy for the past few weeks.
He has started to hit off of a tee and hopes to progress with his throwing regimen and re-join the club in July.
So much for just missing the first few games of the season, right?
Ellsbury went out on the DL after separating his shoulder against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 13th.
While he will likely miss all of June, early indications show that he could return as soon as early July, as he has begun playing catch, which is his first baseball activity since said injury.
The loss of Ellsbury has hurt this lineup, especially at the beginning of the season. If he can return to his 2011 form, the Red Sox offense will be significantly upgraded at just the right time of the season without having to make a significant move at the trade deadline.
Bobby Jenks went in for back surgery in February. For anyone who has ever had, or knows someone who has had, back surgery, the likelihood that Jenks will return at all to Boston is slim-to-none.
That said, he has been ineffective in his limited role in Boston. That is, of course, unless you consider a 6.32 ERA and 2.234 WHIP over 15.2 innings at a $12 million/two-year investment effective. Needless to say, fans aren't exactly clamoring for him to return.
Currently, Ryan Kalish has played five games in A-ball on a rehab stint from his shoulder surgery.
He played three games in Single-A Salem where he went 4-for-12 with a home run before he was sent up to Double-A Portland on June 1st. He has gone 1-for-6, but his one hit was a double.
I'm optimistic for Kalish, but feel that his shot may have come and gone due to injury. The way Ryan Sweeney has been playing, Kalish could very well end up being trade bait once healthy. Unless, of course, the front office views him as having a higher ceiling than Sweeney.
I would expect Kalish to get the call back to the big club by the end of June, if for nothing more than to build his trade value.
John Lackey had Tommy John surgery after the 2011 season ended. He obviously is out for the entire 2012 campaign.
Like Daisuke Matsuzaka, he may return slightly before the All-Star break of the following season, depending on how his rehab goes.
Red Sox Nation is anxiously holding its breath.
While the Red Sox website has him listed on the 60-day DL, Dice-K is currently rehabbing in Triple-A Pawtucket and looks to be more on a day-to-day basis.
In his five games he has thrown for 27 innings with an 0-2 record and 3.33 ERA. That said, he is exhibiting excellent control and has maintained a WHIP of just 0.889.
For those keeping tabs at home, that is .508 lower than his career WHIP in Boston.
The team would be wise to allow him a few more starts in Pawtucket before bringing him up around mid-June.
After straining his oblique, Darnell McDonald has been rehabbing in Pawtucket for the last few games and is essentially on the verge of returning to the Red Sox.
Bobby Valentine wants to be sure that McDonald is 100 percent healthy before getting him that call.
That could be pandering as well: How do you tell a red-hot Scott Podsednik that he has to go back to the minors so Darnell McDonald can take his spot in the lineup?
Like Jacoby Ellsbury, Repko separated his shoulder. Having done so on April 15th, I would say that his return is likely on pace with that of Ellsbury, sometime in early July.
The fact of the matter is that when he does return, Repko probably won't get to the big club until the roster expands.
Cody Ross suffered a fracture in his foot and was slated to be out six-to-eight weeks.
As of right now, he could be ready to return sometime next week. He is going to try to start rehabbing this week when the Sox return to Boston by running and doing some hitting.
Ross was obviously instrumental in the Red Sox offense before hitting the DL; hopefully he can return to form upon rejoining the club.