It was a scene grotesquely reminiscent of a period that every member of Red Sox Nation would rather forget. Nearly two years to the day – April 11, 2010 - Jacoby Ellsbury collided with Boston’s baby bull, Adrian Beltre, near the left field line in Kansas City. He broke five ribs that day and spent all but 18 games of the 2010 season on the DL. The Red Sox medical staff further screwed up the diagnosis, teammates – specifically Kevin Youkilis – questioned Ellsbury’s toughness and the season for Ells and the fans who had come to recognize his budding skills became hell on earth.
During Friday’s Red Sox homecoming party – a vintage Josh Beckett led 12-2 pounding of the Tampa Bay Rays (oh, I so love watching Joe Maddon get his brains beaten in) – that same awful feeling crept over me and sent a shiver up the collective spine of Fenway’s 37,000 plus as Rays shortstop Reid Brignac leaped in the air to avoid an Ellsbury 4th inning slide and landed squarely on Ellsbury’s right shoulder.
It was a sobering moment in an otherwise joyous day. It was clear Ellsbury was in a lot of pain as he pinned his right arm close and walked off the field, done for the day and perhaps a lot longer after a 2-3 day at the plate. He was taken to Mass General for observation. The Red Sox said they’d have no news until Saturday although Bobby Valentine said he’d have another outfielder ready to go. The loss of Ellsbury going down for any substantial period of time is inestimable.
This isn’t 2010 when Ellsbury had as yet unrealized potential. After his break out 2011 season, Ellsbury is a front-line star, one of Boston’s primary cogs that makes the team go. Without him, the team is a no go.
As reported by ESPN, David Ortiz, who saw Ellsbury in the locker room before his trip to the hospital said, “He couldn’t even take his shirt off.” Kevin Youkilis said, “Hopefully there’s no damage or anything in his shoulder. The only thing we’ve even heard is probably the same thing that everyone has been hearing, which is that it felt like something moved a little bit.”
The dominoes started to fall later in the day. Just minutes before Triple A Pawtucket’s game on Friday night, outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was removed from the lineup, a sure sign that Ellsbury was headed for the 15-day disabled list and Lin was headed to Boston to replace him. Just after midnight, WEEI reported that Ellsbury indeed had a dislocated shoulder. No reports mentioned that he was heading to the 15 day DL but you’d have to be Tebowing at this point not to recognize that Ells is heading directly there – do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Speaking more as a fan than a reporter, I’ve got to say that as much fun as opening day at Fenway was on Friday, the potential long-term downside far outweighed winning one game.