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Thumb Injuries Could Sideline Boston Red Sox Pitchers Andrew Bailey and Josh Beckett

The news just keeps getting worse for the Boston Red Sox and its pitching staff.

Not long after closer Andrew Bailey complained of a right thumb injury while squeezing a bottle of shampoo (and later headed off to Boston to get a second opinion on a possible surgery, according to the Boston Globe), starter Josh Beckett has left the club for his home state of Texas for an examination of a right thumb injury of his own.

Beckett is scheduled to start Saturday against the Detroit Tigers. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine assured reporters that Beckett is fine after throwing 100 pitches in a Sunday bullpen session.

“He’s had a little situation that he’s taking care of today just for peace of mind,” Valentine said.

While Valentine’s optimism is comforting to a point, it has become apparent that this injury is not recent news. ESPN’s Gordon Edes reported on Twitter that Beckett first complained about a potential injury ten days ago. And it also looks like the Red Sox have a contingency plan in case Beckett can’t make it. When asked about the injury in an interview with WEEI-FM in Boston, Alfredo Aceves said he would pitch Saturday if Beckett can’t make his start.

The Red Sox can’t afford any losses to a pitching staff that is coming off of a rough end to 2011 that saw the team blow a nine-game lead in the American League wild card standings in less than a month. During the month of September, the Sox went 7-20 with an ERA of 5.48 and  WHIP of 1.53, while allowing 89 extra-base hits. Their team ERA ballooned from 3.89 at the end of August to 4.20 at the end of Chicken & Beer Month.

If Bailey heads to the disabled list, the closing duties could be handled by a committee of Aceves, Mark Melancon, and Vicente Padilla.