PawSox Injuries Mounting

by Marc on May 11, 2011

in Minors

photo courtesy of milb.com

The Red Sox dealt with their fair share of injuries in 2010–injuries that kept them from playing deep in to October–but things have been standard on that front in 2011. The same cannot be said for the PawSox, though, as they are dealing with a mess of injuries at the same time Boston was in need of a few members of the cavalry.

Ryan Kalish re-aggravated a shoulder injury by diving for a ball in the outfield on April 21. He has a partially torn labrum, but the team has not made any decision about whether or not he faces rehabilitation or surgery for the injury.

Kalish could, theoretically, play through the injury assuming he has the proper strength in his shoulder (and, of course, under the assumption he is in a condition where playing through it would not injure him further). Adrian Gonzalez did something similar with the Padres in 2010, adjusting his swing to compensate for the pain and waiting on surgery until the offseason, but Gonzalez is also a first baseman, not an outfielder, and the injury was not to his throwing shoulder, as it is for Kalish. His arm already isn’t great, so anything that could make it worse doesn’t seem like an optimal solution, especially when he supposedly has a future in right field at Fenway (not that losing a year of development to injury is optimal, either).

We won’t know if that is an option until Friday, when the Sox plan to reevaluate Kalish’s shoulder. He has made some progress–he has been cleared to work out again, for instance–but that doesn’t mean he is out of the woods yet.

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Juan Carlos Linares is expected to miss the rest of the year after undergoing ankle surgery yesterday. The 26-year-old Linares was not a top prospect by any means, but his injury cuts in to the Red Sox outfield depth and makes it even more likely that Josh Reddick will be the first line of defense should Mike Cameron or Darnell McDonald go down with injuries for the big league club.

Linares was hitting just .233 with a .281 on-base percentage, but he has shown some power at Pawtucket, slugging .500 with five doubles, a triple, and three homers in his first 64 plate appearances there.

The Cuban import is not expected to be a huge part of the Sox’ future, but losing a year to development at his age is a problem, especially when you consided it often takes a few years for Cubans to acclimate themselves to the talent levels here. Organized Cuban baseball is on par, talent-wise, with the New York-Penn League, meaning that the majority of players, no matter how good they were in their homeland, are going to need to progress through the minors before they can be counted on to contribute in the majors.

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Yamaico Navarro has not played since May 3 due to a back injury that has put him on the 7-day DL. The timing of this injury was poor, as Navarro missed out on an opportunity to go to the majors yet again, this time in place of the injured Marco Scutaro. Jose Iglesias went in his stead, a scenario that is a shame for two reasons. For one, the Sox will have to burn an Iglesias option, as he is not prepared to hit in the majors just yet. He is being used as a bench player, a situation that keeps him from playing everyday–that is also problematic given he is 21 and needs to be on the field.

More on the Navarro side of things, though, is the fact Navarro was swinging the bat well at Pawtucket this year. He is hitting .312/.436/.612 in 101 plate appearances at Triple-A, bringing his career line at the level to .312/.400/.580 (160 plate appearances). It is expected Navarro has a career as a utility infielder in front of him, but if he continues to hit like he has over the past year-plus, maybe there is a starting gig for him out there after all.

My money would be on a utility role–he isn’t going to move Jose Iglesias or Dustin Pedroia (or even Jed Lowrie) off of their positions in Boston, so his only path to the majors in a starting role is with someone else. And if he is going to hit well and be versatile enough defensively to fill a utility role, why would Boston send him packing?–but maybe the bat will turn out good enough to force the issue.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Will C May 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm

“should Mike Cameron or Darnell McDonald go down with injuries for the big league club” — or J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, or Carl Crawford.

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