It comes as no surprise to most Red Sox fans that Tuesday was another rough day for injury news, because it is just one of many in 2010. The day began with the uplifting return of Dustin Pedroia returning the the Sox lineup for the first time since breaking his foot in June and ended with injury news about 3 different Sox outfielders. It started with Eric Patterson being added to the DL with a neck strain, which came as a bit of a surprise and ended with news that likely both Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron will no longer play this season. Although neither announcement is official and a season-ending announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, it is a sad, but true representation of how this season has gone for the Sox.
Looking back at the opening day roster is somewhat of a joke at this point in the season, especially from the perspective of an outfielder. The 2010 squad began with 4 guys manning the Fenway outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron and J.D. Drew as starters from left to right and Jeremy Hermida as the 4th man. The only man standing at this point in the season is J.D. Drew. If I had put money down in the beginning of the year looking at which of the 4 outfielders would still be standing in August, Drew would have been my absolute last choice and I would have lost a ton of money. Drew, Mr. New Ailment Everyday, has played in 3rd most games of any Sox player this year at 106 out of 120 total, which is either a testament to his actually being able to stay on the field or a pathetic representation of how the season has gone for the Sox.
Out of the 27 position players who have played a game for the Sox in 2010 (not including pitchers who hit in inter league play), just 5 have played in 100+ games and when you expand that to 80+ games, only 8 players fit that category. To go a step further, of the 13 opening day position players, 8 have spent time on the DL and of the 12 opening day pitchers, 2 are no longer with the team and 4 others have spent time on the DL. In all, the Sox have had 46 players don the uniform this year and besides the 27 position players, have had 19 pitchers toe the rubber (not including Bill Hall and Jonathan Van Every when they pitched an inning each). For some perspective, the Sox used 38 players (19 position, 19 pitchers) all year in 2007 when they won the World Series and 50 players (25 position, 25 pitchers) in 2004 when they won, both numbers including September call-ups.
At the end of the day, if the Sox don’t make the playoffs, injuries will certainly be a great and convenient excuse. I always harp on the fact that team chemistry is critical if a team wants to advance into and through the playoffs. With the constant revolving door of players and lineups, it can be extremely difficult to build that type of team cohesiveness. For the Sox this year, it hasn’t been the loss of some peripheral players that has hurt, it has been the injuries to the core of the team (Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett) that has made it difficult for this team to grow together. The young outfield talent (Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava) have added a spark and some enthusiasm, but without that veteran presence throughout the lineup, it is near impossible for a team to continue pushing forward.
This season has also been about missed opportunities for the Sox down the stretch. In their past 10-game road trip, on 2 occasions they let a lead slip late in the ball game and lost in their opponent’s last at bat. They missed opportunities to make up games on the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees and as we know, those opportunities are few and far between when dealing with AL East caliber teams. We are 120 games into the 2010 season and the Sox sit 5.5 games back of the tied Rays and Yankees in both the Wild Card and AL East. A lot can happen in 42 games and if the Sox can play like they did on Tuesday night against the Angels on a consistent basis, this season may not be over just yet, but that is a big if. With 8 more games on this home stand, the Sox have their backs against the wall and are in desperate need of wins.
Tags: AL East AL Wild Card Bill Hall Boston Red Sox Daniel Nava Dustin Pedroia Eric Patterson Injuries J.D. Drew Jacoby Ellsbury Jeremy Hermida Jonathan Van Every Josh Beckett Kevin Youkilis Los Angeles Angels Mike Cameron New York Yankees Ryan Kalish Tampa Bay Rays