This was supposed to be a happy week for the Boston Red Sox. They had already gotten Jacoby Ellsbury back over the weekend, Carl Crawford was set to be activated on Monday and the plan was to activate Dustin Pedroia on Thursday.
For the first time all season, Boston's lineup was finally going to be at full strength this week.
It figures that they would lose their best hitter just when things were finally starting to shape up. 'Tis the way of things this season in the Hub.
You know the story by now. While rounding second base on Adrian Gonzalez's clutch three-run home run on Monday night against the Chicago White Sox, David Ortiz came up lame with an apparent leg injury. It was later revealed to be an Achilles injury, though thankfully not a crippling wound (think Howard, Ryan).
As reported by The Boston Globe, Ortiz was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday. He is the 22nd Red Sox player to find his way onto the DL this season, which should give you an idea of why the team has struggled to get high above the .500 mark.
Sox manager Bobby Valentine described Big Papi's injury as a "right strained heel, Achilles’ attachment type thing." It's going to be a week to 10 days before Ortiz is able to take batting practice, which means there's a chance that he could be ready to go by the time his 15 days are up.
But don't hold your breath. Ortiz was wearing a walking boot on Tuesday, and he admitted that he was in a lot of pain.
And Achilles injuries, as any self-respecting sports fan knows, are not to be taken lightly. It's bad enough that they're painful. The true danger is that simple soreness and pain can lead to horrible things like tears and ruptures.
So the Red Sox had better tread carefully with Ortiz. Big Papi himself should literally tread carefully over the next couple of weeks.
What the team's front office has to decide in the meantime is whether it needs to adjust its plans for the trade deadline. With Ortiz out, is it now in their interest to go acquire another bat?
That's not likely.
Like, at all.
Even without Ortiz, who ranks first in the American League in OPS at 1.024, the Red Sox have more than enough offense. They lead the majors in runs scored, and they rank fourth in MLB in both team batting average and team slugging percentage.
Ortiz's injury would have been catastrophic a couple weeks ago, but not so much now. Ellsbury and Crawford are both back, and it's already apparent that having the two of them together at the top of the lineup is going to cause a lot of problems for Boston's opponents. The word from the Globe is that Pedroia will indeed be activated ahead of Thursday night's game against the White Sox.
And Gonzalez, suddenly, is on fire. As Brian McPherson of the Providence Journal pointed out on Wednesday night, Gonzalez has been on a tear ever since he last played in right field. Over his last 23 games, Gonzalez has hit at .404/.423/.553 with three homers and 19 RBI, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
As for the DH spot, Mauro Gomez should be able to hold his own in Ortiz's absence. He's a rotten fielder, but he can definitely hit.
So no, don't expect Ben Cherington to start calling around looking for a bat at any point in the next two weeks. The Red Sox have plenty of bats as it is.
If Ortiz's injury changes anything, it'll probably be the team's pursuit of starting-pitching help.
Though Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has opined that the Red Sox don't need to "rush" into anything seeing as how they already have six viable starting pitchers, it's no secret that Cherington has kicked the tires on some available starting pitchers.
The most notable of the bunch would be MLB ERA leader Ryan Dempster. It was just a couple days ago that ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that the Red Sox were being "aggressive" in their pursuit of Dempster, who is a free agent at the end of the season.
Olney has also written that he expects the Red Sox to be one of the more aggressive teams in trade talks no matter on whom they're focusing. The AL East crown is out of their reach, but they're only a game off the pace in the AL wild-card chase.
They probably have enough firepower to make the postseason already, but Olney has a point when he says that the Red Sox are obligated to bolster the team's chances of making the playoffs via a deadline trade or two.
After all, the Red Sox have missed the playoffs each of the last two years. That's enough to make the natives restless in and of itself, yet the organization only made things worse by suddenly devolving into a dysfunctional mess this past offseason.
So it was already a good bet that the Red Sox were going to be active at the trade deadline. All Ortiz's injury is going to do, if anything, is make them even more desperate to shake things up.
I shouldn't have to say this seeing as how you should always be doing this during deadline season, but I'll say it anyway:
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