Add Martinez to walking wounded
Red Sox soldier on despite unbelievable rash of injuries
SAN FRANCISCO -- There was just one thing left to do for the Red Sox in San Francisco.
"Bob and weave and get out of town," outfielder J.D. Drew said after the weekend series in AT&T Park, aka the House of Pain, claimed a third victim in a Sox uniform.
You didn't have to be 3,000 miles away, watching on TV back home in New England, to be surprised at the news that catcher Victor Martinez left Sunday's game with a fractured left thumb and could be headed to the disabled list, although that's not a given, manager Terry Francona said.
Reporters, who, like you, watched Martinez hobble around before dropping to his knees in the second inning after taking a foul ball off his left big toe -- the same toe he had injured a month ago the same way against Tampa Bay -- thought Francona misspoke when he announced that Martinez had fractured his thumb.[+] EnlargeCary Edmondson/US PresswireTerry Francona and the Red Sox would hear nothing of the team having a run of bad luck, particularly after beating Tim Lincecum and the Giants.
There were occupants of the Sox clubhouse who were just as surprised. Such as Drew, who was dressing after Sunday's 5-1 win over the Giants and was shocked to learn that the top of Martinez's thumb was broken.
"What did they say about Vic? Huh? Are you crazy?" Drew said.
"I thought when he hit that ball off his toe again, he came off because of his foot. I knew he was shaking his hand a little bit. First time, it bent his [thumb] nail a little bit. That's his catching hand. That's unbelievable. That's really unbelievable.
"I had no idea. I didn't even ask. He limped around so bad, and was barking a little bit, I thought they decided to pull him out for the toe. Holy smokes. I've got to go see Vic. That's crazy."
Crazy, or cruel and unusual punishment. In the third inning Friday night, Dustin Pedroia fouled a ball off his left instep, breaking a bone in his foot, and he probably will miss the next six weeks, at least according to the usual forecasts for such injuries. On Saturday, pitcher Clay Buchholz, who had forgotten he was supposed to take the first pitch of his first at-bat, swung away and collected his first big league hit, then hyperextended his left knee running from first to second.
The Sox, with two off days this week, are hoping Buchholz will be able to make his next start but will know more when he is examined in Boston on Monday.
And then there's Martinez, who also has an appointment Monday to give the Sox's doctors a chance to look at the fracture at the tip of his thumb -- the medical term is distal phalanx.
"We definitely want to get out of here quick," said Martinez, for whom foul tips are an occupational hazard but who said he had never fractured his thumb before.
Martinez on Sunday was a victim of double jeopardy. In the second inning, Pablo Sandoval fouled a ball that hit his thumb then caromed off his toe, which led to his impromptu, and painful, hip-hop out to the mound. He stayed in the game and flied out to center in the top of the third, but in the bottom of the inning another foul tip, this one off the bat of Giants leadoff man Andres Torres, also penetrated the padding of his catcher's mitt.
"By the time I got back to the dugout, it was swelling and swelling," Martinez said. "I couldn't put my hand in the glove. It was really painful."
Martinez had remained in the game for Torres and two more batters to finish the third, but when Francona noticed him having trouble warming up Lester for the fourth, he sent Varitek in to replace him.
"It's not a given that he goes on the DL," Francona said. "Not a given that he's going to be OK, either. We'll get him examined tomorrow and see where we go from there."
Martinez, who missed three games last month after Tampa Bay's Jason Bartlett fouled a ball off his left big toe, leaving it swollen and discolored, was hopeful of avoiding the DL.
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"I don't think I'm going to have to be on the disabled list," Martinez said. "There's pain, but we'll see how it feels tomorrow. It's a good thing we have an off day tomorrow. I'm going to have it checked out again and see what happens."
Martinez could only shake his head about the run of calamity that has struck the Sox.
"Nothing you can do about it," he said. "I wish everybody knew [they] were going to get hurt one day. You don't show up. But that's baseball. You keep playing hard and keep playing our game. Whatever happens, happens."
The Sox are noticeably short in catching depth at the moment. The two catchers expected to share most of the duties in Triple-A Pawtucket, Dusty Brown and Mark Wagner, both are out with injuries, Brown with a sprained thumb, Wagner with a broken hamate bone in his hand and some wrist inflammation. Gustavo Molina, who has 19 games of big league catching experience, is catching in Pawtucket now, backed up by Juan Apodaca, recently promoted from Double-A Portland.
Francona, who will be challenged to manage the Sox through this mess, after the game Sunday was clearly adhering to the mandate put forth by another manager of note, Tom Hanks. There's no crying in baseball.
"We've won two in a row," Francona said. "I don't call that bad luck. We won the game. I don't know if I really care to talk about luck. You try to go play good baseball. Control what we can control. That's the best thing we can do.
"You lose some margin of error when your big guys go down, but that doesn't mean you can't win."
Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.
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