Red Sox Practicing Patience as Injured Players Work Their Way Back to Health

Red Sox Practicing Patience as Injured Players Work Their Way Back to Health The Red Sox are hoping the cavalry will be coming for a second-half push toward the playoffs.

But before players can return to Boston, they must embark on minor league rehab stints.

The Red Sox lead the majors with 11 players on the disabled list, including three All-Stars. Overall, there have been an almost comical 16 DL stints among 14 players.

Questions have begun to swirl about how long the Red Sox can stay in the AL East hunt with all these injuries, especially with a cast of some very "wet behind the ears" big leaguers. 

However, despite having the unproven tag, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava are two examples of players who have come up big in key moments this year. And while some people are waiting for the dam to burst, the Red Sox have been able to plug gaps with the likes of Felix Doubront and Kevin Cash.  Although there have been a few leaks, such as Niuman Romero's brief stint in Tampa Bay, the Red Sox' replacements have done a solid job.

Now, help could be on the way coming out of the All-Star break. The Red Sox announced Tuesday that Manny Delcarmen and Clay Buchholz will head to the minors to rehab, joining Josh Beckett, who will continue his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Delcarmen, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list July 2 (retroactive to July 1) with a right forearm strain, will join the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs in New Britain, Conn., on Thursday, when the 'Dogs take on the Rock Cats.

The 28-year old pitched for the Sea Dogs at the start of the 2005 season and had 49 strikeouts in 39 innings with a 3.23 ERA. Delcarmen's performance in Portland helped catapult him through Pawtucket and on to Boston by the end of the year.

The Red Sox would like to see Delcarmen expedite the leap back to Boston this season to add depth to the bullpen.

Meanwhile, the Pawtucket PawSox will have the pleasure of having Buchholz and Beckett for back-to-back rehab starts Friday and Saturday, respectively.  Like the Sea Dogs, the PawSox also will be on the road, as they head to Syracuse to take on the Chiefs.

Buchholz is no stranger to bouncing back and forth between Pawtucket. He's pitched for the PawSox and Red Sox in each of the last four seasons.  However, the Red Sox and Buchholz are both hopeful that the one start will be all the fine-tuning the 25-year old needs to test the left hamstring strain that put him on the 15-day disabled list on July 5 (retroactive to June 27).

The 22-year old Doubront has picked up both of Buchholz's missed starts, posting a 1-1 record with a 4.22 ERA. Although the rookie left-hander pitched admirably in Buchholz's spot, having Buch's 10-4 record and 2.45 ERA back in the Boston rotation as soon as possible would be ideal for the ailing Red Sox. 

Then there is Beckett. The veteran has not thrown from a major league mound since the fifth inning of a May 18 game against the Yankees in the Bronx.  He already made one start for the PawSox on July 11 in Pawtucket, allowing one run on two hits in four innings while striking out four.
  
The number of combined games missed by the 16 DL stints sits at a staggering 516 for the Red Sox, and when baseball resumes on Thursday, that number will begin to rise again.  However, no matter how high that number soars into the atmosphere, patience will become the key for the 2010 Boston Red Sox.

Nobody knows yet if the current Red Sox lineup is built strong enough to hang around in the AL East, but at that same time, nobody knows that they are not. Help is on the way, but the rehab process must take its time to play out.

The process can be slow and tedious, but it is essential for these players to test their bodies and reestablish their rhythm at the minor league level. Delcarmen, Buchholz, and Beckett are just the first wave of Boston's current disabled list to begin the ascent back to Fenway. 

If the rehab process is done properly, these players will be ready almost immediately to solidify their presence back up in Boston.  A healthy lineup and a bolstered pitching staff featuring Beckett, Jon Lester, Buchholz, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka could mean serious trouble for the rest of the AL East, and perhaps those teams who remain in October.

But patience is a virtue, and for now, Boston waits. 

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