Carl Crawford and Andrew Bailey, prize acquisitions over the past two offseasons, have yet to see the field in 2012, and last year's MVP runner-up, Jacoby Ellsbury, has missed all but seven games with a shoulder injury. Add to that recent trips to the disabled list by pitchers Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz, and the Red Sox have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries.
But all is not lost for Boston. A recent hot streak has the Red Sox a season-high four games over .500, just two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League's second wildcard spot. With that in mind, NESN's Don Orsillo answered some questions about what lies ahead for the Sox when their stars are finally healthy.
What will you remember most about Kevin Youkilis’s time with the Sox?
To me, he was a guy who got the absolute most out of his abilities. When I first saw him in Pawtucket, I did not think he would become an everyday major league player. He did not appear to have the tools to be a guy you would project to be a future Major Leaguer, let alone the All-Star and middle of the lineup guy he became. Not to mention learning a new position at first and winning a Gold Glove. So to answer your question, he was a guy who gave 100 percent every day. He was a dirt dog who had great passion for playing and winning. He will be missed. I am hopeful for Kevin that he can stay healthy and I imagine he will be highly motivated when he arrives in Chicago to prove that he is still an All-Star-caliber player.
When is Jacoby Ellsbury coming back? I miss him!
– Martina Boisvert
That’s a tough one to answer. Bobby Valentine has been very careful about putting dates on injured players. It is his opinion that it adds undue pressure on guys to return if you announce an anticipated date. So a player will return when they are ready. While Carl Crawford is playing in rehab games now in the Gulf Coast League, Jacoby Ellsbury is not. We have seen Ellsbury running the bases and doing some baseball activities, but there has been no date announced yet as to when he will head on a rehab stint. When he does, I would imagine him needing at least 40 at-bats to be ready. Pretty much a spring training amount, but in June.
Will the Orioles finish the season with more wins than the Sox?
– Ronan Khalsa
While I think they are vastly improving as a team from the last several years, I do not believe they will end up with a better record than the Sox. I think the Red Sox are finally finding their way and becoming a team right now, and they will only get better with health in the second half with the return of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Andrew Bailey. They finally have the team they were supposed to have when they broke camp and started the season. I am impressed, however, with the job Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter have done in Baltimore.
Should the Sox try to shop Carl Crawford, or is it useless given his contract? Will he regain his form and play to his potential if he returns?
– Neil Axelrod
I do not think anyone would take the contract off the Sox' hands. I remember how excited I was when the Sox signed Carl Crawford. As an opponent watching him with the Rays, I thought he was easily one of the top five most exciting players to watch in the game and was thrilled we would be doing so on a daily basis. It has not worked out so far but I believe when he returns we will see the see the Carl Crawford we expected to see last year. He is highly motivated and can be a game changer with his speed and defense. Just a matter of when.
Next year, Houston is going to the American League. Is there going to be an interleague game every week?
– Reyes, Puerto Rico
As a result of the addition of Houston to the AL, there will be interleague games spread out during the entire year rather than one series in May and the rest in June. Now you could actually start and end the season playing a National League team.
Photo via Facebook/Spayne Martinez Cuevas