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Red Sox pregame notes: Bobby Valentine prepares for life without Dustin Pedroia

05.29.12 at 6:27 pm ET
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Through the first 48 games of Bobby Valentine‘s managerial tenure with the Red Sox, there had been a constant. Dustin Pedroia had been a lineup certainty at second base.

That ended Tuesday, when Valentine made up a lineup card without Pedroia’s name in it. Instead, Nick Punto will play second and bat ninth. The fact that Pedroia will be sidelined is a decision of necessity rather than choice, after the three-time All-Star underwent an MRI for his injured right thumb.

Pedroia, Valentine said, has been dealing with some discomfort in his thumb for a matter of weeks. But in his third and final at-bat on Monday, when he popped out, the handle of the bat jammed into Pedroia’s thumb. The pain became more acute, and after Pedroia made a diving play to end the top of the fifth inning, he came into the dugout and made clear that he could no longer stay in the game.

‘€œI’€™ve gone through a lot of different situations here in the last couple of months. This will be different, not having him in the lineup,” said Valentine. “When he sat down next to me on the bench, I knew he wasn’€™t going to go back out on the field. He wanted to. It was serious enough for him not to go back. It’€™s serious enough, obviously, for him not to be in the lineup tonight — and maybe more than tonight. I’€™m not sure.”

The Red Sox have neither a confirmed diagnosis nor prognosis. For the time being, the team is saying only that Pedroia won’t play tonight and that the team won’t be making a roster move for today’s game.

“He got jammed about three weeks ago. He started wearing the little protection, and I know he took some batting practice using a little bit of a different grip. There wasn’€™t anything on the medical reports or anything for the last couple of weeks,” said Valentine. “Probably the situation is that it’€™s weak enough or bruised enough that if something reoccurs, if the same situation reoccurs, maybe then it could get very serious.

“I’€™m optimistic that ligaments and tendons aren’€™t involved, but I don’€™t know,” added Valentine. “I don’€™t know how to classify it. We don’€™t have a diagnosis. I don’€™t know how I’€™m talking around the non-diagnosis, so don’€™t take any of this as verbatim.”

All that the Sox know, for now, is that they must now confront the reality of life without Pedroia for a night, and most likely, judging by the time needed to evaluate the results of the exam and the brace the second baseman was wearing prior to the game, quite a bit more.

With Jacoby Ellsbury already down, the Sox are now facing the same sort of overwhelming challenge that confronted them in 2010. The team built its 2012 roster on the premise that it had a core that included three players (Ellsbury, Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez) who finished last year in the top 10 in AL MVP voting. Now, the team is without two-thirds of that group, and the lineup is starting to have the same sort of ravaged look that it featured two seasons ago, when Ellsbury, Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Mike Cameron missed huge chunks of the year.

It is worth recalling that the 2010 Red Sox finished the year ranked second in the American League with 5.05 runs per game, and that, to date, the Sox have been able to withstand their own rash of injuries to plate 5.27 runs a contest, second in the AL. Even so, the loss of Pedroia represents a blow to a team that has been fighting desperately to claw its way back over .500. The task just got harder.

“He’€™s a terrific player, obviously,” said Valentine. “I’€™d rather have him playing than not playing.’€

OTHER NOTES

Darnell McDonald was checked out by Red Sox team doctors on Tuesday. He’s expected to go back to Pawtucket on Wednesday to continue his rehab assignment. He’s currently 0-for-8 with a walk and sac fly in three games, but he doesn’t feel as if he’s recovered fully from his oblique strain.

“He said he could play but he’s not 100 percent and I told him I’d like him to be 100 percent being he’s on the disabled list and by the time he comes back we’d like to have a player who’s capable to go full bore,” said Valentine.

Carl Crawford is swinging off a tee as he continues his comeback from a left elbow strain. He will commence a program in which he does not use his throwing arm while simulating the mechanics of throwing with the rest of his body. Valentine said that, when Crawford is ready to play in games, he imagined it was possible that Crawford could be ready to return to the majors with about 50 plate appearances, though he said that the call will ultimately be Crawford’s.

“If he was leading off and got five at-bats a game for 10 days, I think that probably is a number that could work but I’m not sure,” said Valentine. “He’ll know when he’s ready.”

Read More: carl crawford, darnell mcdonald, Dustin Pedroia,
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