The Boston Red Sox are off to a perfunctory 5-8 start in defense of their 2013 World Series title, a record that was teetering on the edge of getting drastically worse, as the Sox sent superstars Dustin Pedroia and Koji Uehara back to Boston to get tests done on some worrisome injuries. Pedroia jammed his wrist during a recent series against Milwaukee and it continued to get worse, while Uehara experienced some shoulder tightness while warming up before a game on Saturday. Luckily, Red Sox nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief, as their second baseman and closer are both listed as day-to-day.
Pedroia has built a reputation for being amongst the toughest players in baseball. He tore a ligament in his thumb on opening day last season, yet still played in 160 games and hit over .300, without mentioning a peep about his destroyed thumb. The Sox offense has struggled as the team has found no consistent way to replace Jacoby Ellsbury’s production from the top of the order, a problem only magnified by Pedroia’s slump. He has just seven hits in the past 45 at-bats, likely something that can be attributed to the wrist injury. “I think there’s probably a direct correlation to what we’ve seen at the plate,” Manager John Farrell told the Boston Globe.
Uehara has quickly become irreplaceable, after signing last season as a middle reliever. Injuries to closer Joel Hanrahan and setup man Andrew Bailey left Uehara as the de facto closer, a role he embraced with open arms, and turned into one of the most dominant seasons for any reliever in baseball history. The shoulder soreness brought back scary memories of an identical injury he suffered years back as a member of the Texas Rangers, but the Red Sox once again lucked out as it was reported by ESPN that he and Pedroia are both likely to avoid hitting the disabled list.
Injuries are up across baseball, and the Red Sox are no stranger to them. Multi-talented outfielder Shane Victorino is also slated to begin a minor league rehab assignment, with his eye set on the weekend to make his 2014 debut. Boston was also counting on a breakout season from third baseman Will Middlebrooks before he hit the disabled list with a strained calf. Middlebrooks had begun to find his stroke at the plate, and his absence has left the Sox devoid of any right-handed thump in the bottom part of the lineup. The Jonathan Herrera/Ryan Roberts platoon should be short-lived, as Middlebrooks also avoided a major injury.
Boston’s early season struggles have been mostly an annoyance through 13 games, but long-term injuries to Pedroia and Uehara would have rightfully sent the fan base into panic mode. Sox nation can take solace in the fact that two of their most beloved icons will be back as soon as tomorrow. An already dinged up team with an unsettled bullpen and a flat lineup could have seen their biggest fears become reality if Uehara and Pedroia had tears and breaks instead of just soreness and bruises.
Commentary by Justin Hussong
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox