In the fourth inning of the Boston Red Sox home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays Jacoby Ellsbury suffered an unspecified shoulder injury while trying to break up a double play. Ellsbury was running on the pitch when Dustin Pedroia hit a hard ground ball at shortstop Reid Brignac. The Rays shortstop fielded the grounder and made the throw to first despite a hard slide by Ellsbury. After the throw, Brignac landed on Ellsbury’s right shoulder area , causing the injury. Ellsbury was clearly in a great deal of pain after the play and exited the game.
Red Sox right fielder Cody Ross shifted over to center the following inning and Ryan Sweeney entered the game as the new right fielder. Ellsbury has been struggling to start the year, with just three hits in 27 plate appearances in the first six games, but he was having an excellent game before being injured. He had two hits, one run scored and one RBI in three at bats.
There is no word yet on the extent of the Ellsbury’s injuries, but it certainly appeared serious when it happened. Ellsbury lost most of the 2010 season to a rib injury, but rebounded in 2011 to lead the American League in fWAR and finish second in the AL MVP voting. The loss of Ellsbury could not come at a worse time for the Boston Red Sox. Left fielder Carl Crawford is currently on the DL following wrist surgery this off-season and the team lacks depth in the outfield as a result. If Ellsbury does miss significant time, minor league signees like Jason Repko, Josh Kroeger or Daniel Nava may get called up to bloster the bench or the Sox could give prospect and defensive wizard Che-Hsuan Lin a shot, but the majority of playing time will almost certainly go to Cody Ross, Darnell McDonald and Ryan Sweeney.
Update: Alex Speier has cited an industry source who believes the injury is a dislocated shoulder. That means Ellsbury will likely be out be out 6-8 weeks. The Pawtucket Red Sox scratched prospect Che-Hsuan Lin from their game tonight, so he is the likely replacement at this point.