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BOSTON (CBS) – Playing the outfield for the Boston Red Sox this season has led to a bit of bad luck.
The team started the season without their $20 million man in Carl Crawford, who is still on the shelf with a left wrist injury. They lost last year’s MVP-runner up Jacoby Ellsbury to a separated shoulder in their home opener. Even Darnell McDonald, who has filled in at each outfield position and even a stint as a reliever this season, is on the disabled list with a strained oblique.
In total, the Red Sox have five outfielders on the disabled list (Crawford, Ellsbury, McDonald, Jason Repko and Ryan Kalish). They are hoping that number doesn’t increase, but had a couple of more outfielders go down in Philadelphia, as the Sox lost Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney. Both are hoping to play Monday night in Baltimore, although that could be a long-shot.
Sweeney was injured Saturday night making a spectacular diving catch in the seventh inning to help preserve the Sox’ 7-5 win. He hit his face hard on the ground as he made the catch, and underwent concussion and whiplash tests following the game. Sweeney underwent more concussion tests Sunday afternoon, and said he was improving, according to ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes.
Ross on the other hand, may need an extra day or two after fouling a pitch off the top of his left foot Friday night. He did not play Saturday or Sunday, and the team even made a move to get outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin up from Pawtucket.
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On Sunday, Bobby Valentine had an outfield of Adrian Gonzalez (in right), Daniel Nava and Marlon Byrd. Lin found his way into the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh, with Gonzalez taking over at first for David Ortiz. Monday night, if neither Ross or Sweeney can go, Boston could feature an outfield of Marlon Byrd, Daniel Nava and Lin. Short stop Mike Aviles could even make an appearance, something Valentine contemplated on Sunday (with Nick Punto playing short). The Red Sox are hoping they don’t have to rely on such drastic measures, especially against the team in first place in the AL East.
But it seems, so far at least, when the Red Sox have turned to replacement outfielders they have gotten the job done. Ross is second on the team in both home runs (8) and RBI (28). In just 34 games this season, Sweeney has 38 hits. Even Marlon Byrd, who hit just .070 for the Cubs in 13 games before coming to Boston, is hitting .280 out of the nine-hole. Daniel Nava has taken advantage of another chance in the a majors, smacking 10 hits — four of them doubles — in the 11 games he’s played in. He’s also driven in 11 runs and is slugging at a .531 clip.
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Valentine and Co. are hoping to get their outfield back in order, or at least the original injury replacements back in order, as they open a very important three-game set in Baltimore. But as has been the case so far this season, it could just be another player stepping up when called upon.