Youk Likely Done for the Season
"It’s just a freak accident, I guess. I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know the reason behind it. None of the doctors really know the reason behind it. It just happened. I’ve just got to move forward from here. It’s misfortune, but I think for me personally I’ve been very fortunate with my health for a long time. I can’t get too upset because I’ve been very fortunate. I wish I could help the team out as much as I can. It’s one of those things; luckily it’s not a career-ending [injury]. I’ll still be able to play, just not right now. -Kevin Youkilis on his torn thumb muscle (much more after the jump)"
Just when you thought the injury parade had ended for the Sox, maybe the largest injury of them all occurred. After taking a swing on Monday, Kevin Youkilis was in visible pain, later leaving the game with a torn thumb muscle. Youk was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday, and after getting an MRI, will almost definitely be gone for a much longer period of time. Youk is going for a 2nd opinion on Wednesday to determine if he needs season-ending surgery, but even if he doesn’t go under the knife, Youk is likely gone for 6-8 weeks, with just 7-8 weeks left in the 2010 season. Despite Mike Lowell’s ability to play 1st, the Sox are losing an irreplaceable piece, one of their best hitters and a dominant force in the 3rd slot in the lineup.
"It’s baseball, and injuries are a part of the game. I feel like we’ve had more than our fair share, but no one’s going to feel sorry for us. We need to find a way to win, regardless. We’re just going to continue to do the best with what we have. I still feel like we put a good team on the field every night, and I feel like we have enough talent to get as hot as we’re going to need to get to do damage in this division. -Theo Epstein"
I respect Mike Lowell as much as the next guy, but he can not replace what Kevin Youkilis brings to this team. So far in 2010, Youk has hit .307 with 19 home runs and 62 rbis in 102 games and has committed just 3 errors with a .997 fielding percentage. The injury to Youk will force the rest of the Sox team to step-up their game if they want to have a chance at making the post-season and although Youk can not play, he will certainly still be the vocal leader from the dugout. During Tuesday night’s brawl, Youkilis was right in the middle of the action, yelling and being his normal self, because his personality does not allow him to sit passively aside. He is a team guy through and through, so anything he can possibly add from the dugout, he will.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Theo explore a waiver-wire trade for a 1st baseman to fill Kevin Youkilis’ shoes, despite having Lowell on the roster. The ideal scenario for the Sox would be Lowell playing every day and watch him hit in the upper-.200s with power, but since the likelihood of that happening on a consistent basis is slim given his recent health issues, the Sox may opt to go in a different direction if they are still in the playoff hunt. This injury is not only devastating because of who is involved, but also because of timing, as the Sox have 2 more games with the Cleveland Indians at home, then head down to New York to take on the 2nd place Bronx Bombers in a critical 4-game set (Friday-Monday) at the new Yankee Stadium.
Those 4 games in New York will not only be a great barometer for the Sox down the stretch, but is also a near must-win series. If the Sox hope to remain competitive, they need to at least split the series, but if they can take 3 out of 4 from the reeling Yanks, they will be right back within close striking range of the AL Wild Card with around 49 or so games to go in the season. Head-to-head match-ups are always crucial within the division, especially when it is the Sox/Yankees rivalry, but down the stretch, each series and each game gets exponentially magnified in a close race. Just one game at a time.