If the President needed evidence that everyone needs medical care eventually, he could exhibit the Boston Red Sox, with a Disabled List long enough to field a new team. O.K., so we might have some peculiar health at shortstop and catcher, but the rest of the line-up is intact or, I should say, infirm.
First, every member of the pitching staff, except John Lester, has been on the disabled list this year, and Lester has visited within the past twelve months. Their ailments range from the usual neck, elbow and shoulder complaints to esophagitis (Clay Bucholz). A full-time orthopedist would have more activity on this staff than the pitching coach.
The outfield has rotated through the disabled list from Spring Training on, with Carl Crawford a charter member and Jacoby Ellsbury an annual candidate for long-term rehabilitation. But the Sox were prepared. They acquired Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross, and Scott Posednik as capable replacements, but they have all had fifteen days or more among the lame, the halt, and the blind. Add the benighted Darnell McDonald and you have two complete outfields who required affordable health care this year.
The infield has been more stable, but only because Pedroia and Youkilis played hurt the entire first half of the year. Both of these soldiers deserve honors for grit and refuse-to-excuse determination. Unfortunately Youkilis’ heroism could not overcome his encounters of the wrong kind with pitched balls. His injuries added a new page to the Merck Manual.
Will Middlebrooks could be the latest cursed third baseman, as he nurses a hamstring pull that could lead to the DL. Perhaps it is only a rite of passage, and Middlebrooks will return stronger after the All-Star game.
To be fair, the Red Sox have reclaimed some pitching from the chronically disabled list this year, including Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, and Franklin Morales. The rejuvenation of abandoned arms gives hope that an intact pitching staff might still be assembled. The challenge for the Sox has been to maintain a starting rotation with less than eight pitchers. Even six would be a good number of starters to carry into the fall.
The All-Star Break will be welcome relief for the walking and sitting wounded. If the Sox can arrive at mid-season still above .500, they should thank their deep Farm system and capable medical team. The heck with a deep bullpen; let’s stock up on trainers.