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On Tuesday, Dustin Pedroia was diagnosed with a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb. Depending on who you ask, the significance of this injury may appear to be very different.
If you ask the Red Sox and manager Bobby Valentine, they’ll tell you that Pedroia is too important to the team to risk losing for an extended period of time. They’ll tell you that Pedroia was unable to swing a bat today in practice, and that he’s day to day at best. Lastly, they’ll tell you they have no idea if there’s a high risk of injuring the thumb further if he plays through the injury.
Then, you could ask Pedroia.
He’ll tell you about the new brace he is now wearing on his hand, and how much better he feels today as compared to yesterday. He’ll tell you how much the swelling and bruising his gone down. He’ll tell you that if that swelling and bruising continues to subside, he won’t miss much time.
The real decisions may come from forces beyond Valentine’s timid approach and Pedroia’s ferocity. The real decisions may just come from luck…or lack there of. If the Red Sox do end up moving Pedroia to the disabled list to join the majority of their opening day batting order, the team’s worst nightmare may become a reality.
Joining a batting order that already features a slew of glorified minor league players that have received a promotion only out of necessity will be Nick Punto. And if Punto’s .128 batting average isn’t quite making the cut, the Sox can always call upon current Paw Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias.
If Iglesias isn’t an option for the Sox, then they could always turn to catchers Kelly Shoppach and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fill in. NESN reported today that the armored portion of the Red Sox’ battery is in consideration to back up the likely initial starter, Punto.
The Red Sox, already missing Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, and Cody Ross from their currently depleted lineup, will be set to welcome Punto to the batting order for the foreseeable future. Pedroia’s potential long-term injury could have long-term ramifications on this team.
With Adrian Gonzalez underachieving, Kevin Youkilis struggling to find his swing, and Scott Podsednik and Marlon Byrd “holding up” the back end of the order, Pedroia’s absence could be the kryptonite to the Red Sox recent strong play.
Just look at today’s lineup for proof.
With each passing day, the Red Sox lineup more strongly resembles a small budget, small market team. And with each passing day, the Red Sox will continue to play, and lose, like a small market, small budget team.