Boston Red Sox star second baseman Dustin Pedroia left Monday’s game against the Detroit Tigers after jamming his right thumb. The results are now in and Pedroia has a tear in the adductor muscle in his thumb. Pedroia and the team are hopeful that a brace can help him to play with the injury but if that is not feasible he will likely miss a month of play.
The injury is not as extensive as the thumb injury that required Kevin Youkilis to have season ending surgery in 2010 or the torn thumb ligament that has kept closer Andrew Bailey from playing this season. In both of those cases, the injuries had caused damage to ligament or tendons in the hand. Dustin Pedroia’s injury is limited to muscles in his thumb and at this point surgery is not being considered as an option.
In place of Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox have been forced to play light hitting utility infielder Nick Punto at second base. Punto is htting just .140/.283/.163 on the season and striking out in almost 30% of his at bats. He is a capable enough defender, but hardly any replacement for one of the best defensive players in the game. Pedroia has not been hot lately with the bat hitting just .245/.269/.256 over the past two weeks while the Red Sox have gone 9-6 in that time, so for the short term, this injury is something the team can handle. However, if the Red Sox do have to make due for a month, Nick Punto is not going to be a viable solution.
The Red Sox could get creative in an attempt to replace Pedroia if he is not able to play through the injury. Mike Aviles could shift to second base allowing the team to call up Jose Iglesias to play shortstop. For now, it does appear that the absence of the right-handed hitting Pedroia will mean more playing time in right field for Adrian Gonzalez. The gold glove first baseman is certainly not a strong fielder in right with his limited range, but he has been better than expected and keeping him, Youkilis and the powerful righted handed hitting rookie Will Middlebrooks in the lineup is now more important than ever.