It is now being reported by MLB.com, ESPN, the Boston Globe and others that Dustin Pedroia will go on the disabled list, leaving the Red Sox without their talismanic second baseman for the upcoming four-game series against the New York Yankees.
Diving for a ball against the Oakland Athletics appears to have injured Pedroia's thumb, though in a different way to the injury which kept him out for a week earlier this season.
When Pedey missed six games in early June, the Sox coped reasonably well, and are 5-3 without him in the lineup. But Boston is entering a rough part of their schedule.
If he comes off the DL as soon as he is eligible, he'll be back with the team on July 19 or 20. That would see him miss four games against New York, three in Tampa Bay and four against the Chicago White Sox, all of whom are playoff contenders.
This is a team already ravaged by injuries. Carl Crawford has missed the entire season so far, Jacoby Ellsbury has missed 75 games, and at one point Boston had seven outfielders on the disabled list. Kevin Youkilis missed time before his trade to Chicago, Josh Beckett has been on the DL, and Clay Buchholz and Andrew Bailey are still there.
The Red Sox are a half-game ahead of the Blue Jays for last in the AL East, 7.5 games out of first. The next two weeks could kill them in the standings. A sweep by the Yankees would leave them 11.5 games adrift at the All-Star break. Even with the second wild card this year, they cannot afford to lose ground on the Angels and Rays.
That's not to say Pedroia has been having a good season. He is hitting just .266—35 points below his career average, 60 points below his career best in 2008—and since coming back from his initial thumb injury, he is batting a paltry .210.
If Pedroia misses them all, how many of the next 11 games will Boston win?
Even with his poor numbers, Pedroia is significantly better than those Bobby Valentine has to replace him. Mike Aviles has been respectable, but watching Nick Punto step up to the plate is at once painful and embarrassing. His .180 average is 98 points worse than his mark last year. The rookie Mauro Gomez has a good upside, and got his first major league hit against the Athletics, but you'd rather have someone else taking at bats.
The Pedroia-to-DL issue is compounded by Will Middlebrooks' hamstring issue. He is still on the active roster but sat out all three games of the Oakland series. Bobby V would probably prefer sit him for some of the upcoming Yankees series—especially the first game of Saturday's double header—but now his absence will be even more painful.
The next fortnight will be hugely important for the Red Sox's season. However, Dustin Pedroia will not take a single at-bat over that stretch, and Boston may find itself struggling to keep its head above water by the time he returns.
Adam MacDonald is a Scottish journalism student at GCU and has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox since October 2010. You can follow him on Twitter, or tell him how awesome/terrible this article was, by clicking here.