Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts suffers back strain

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Last night’s game would have been an ugly one regardless of injury news. Ahead 8-1 after hitting three home runs through the first three innings, the Red Sox allowed the Blue Jays to chip away at their lead before vaulting ahead with a devastating nine-run seventh inning in an eventual 13-10 loss. However, to add insult to injury (quite literally), Mookie Betts left the game in the second inning after crashing into the center field wall.

One day later, it does not appear that Betts’ injury is a devastating one. Despite the awful appearance of the injury, in which Betts’ head snaps back and he falls to the ground after colliding with the wall, things could have been much worse for Boston’s 22-year old center fielder. Manager John Farrell announced that Betts was undergoing no concussion symptoms and all of his x-rays were negative.

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Still, just because his injury could have been worse doesn’t mean things look particularly good. Betts’ injury is listed as a lower back strain and he also suffered a contusion during his landing. According to Farrell and the Red Sox, there is no definite time table on Betts’ return.

Perhaps the most painful aspect of this injury is that it occurred in a game where Betts finally appeared to have broken from a major funk at the plate. Betts lifted a home run over the green monster in the first inning, going back-to-back with Pablo Sandoval, his first home run in 33 games.

Betts’ first full major league season hasn’t gone well, as he is hitting a meager .237/.296/.381 with 6 home runs and 10 stolen bases thus far. Hopefully this injury doesn’t sidetrack him too much, but if he is forced to go to the disabled list, Jackie Bradley Jr. would likely receive the call from Pawtucket. This could work out well for the Red Sox, as Bradley has been performing at an extremely high rate in Triple-A thus far, slashing .333/.407/.500 through 41 games.

There has not yet been a place for Bradley in the major leagues, but a trip to the disabled list for Betts could allow Bradley to receive some much-needed MLB playing time while allowing Betts to fully recover. If Betts’ injury isn’t serious, then there’s no point in adding him to the DL (of course), but if this is a borderline injury, he should go. With the Red Sox already looking out of contention, it’s absurd to risk harming a future star especially when another youngster is clamoring for a major league spot.