With Jacoby Ellsbury on DL, Red Sox May Go Rest of Way Without Leadoff Presence

With Kevin Youkilis lost for the year is was an impossibility that the Red Sox would ever field a complete lineup for the stretch run. But with Dustin Pedroia days from returning and Jacoby Ellsbury back in the fold, there was at least a degree of excitement surrounding what the top of the order could look like.

With the news that Ellsbury is once again headed to the disabled list it seems as if the club will never get to experience that dynamic duo leading the charge again in 2010.

Ellsbury will be placed on the disabled list prior to Saturday night's contest in Texas. He reinjured himself Friday night when he rolled onto his left side following a collision at first base with Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter. Reliever Michael Bowden will be brought in to help out a bullpen that has been taxed of late.

The 26-year-old Ellsbury was only 4-for-34 (.118) since returning from a layoff of more than two months but did have five stolen bases and showed flashes of what the Sox had lacked for a large portion of the season.

Now there is legitimate reason to consider Ellsbury a lost cause for 2010. He simply cannot avoid reinjuring that area of his body, and with each prolonged absence deprives the club of that top-of-the-order presence.

Not that Marco Scutaro has performed poorly — he is a .276 hitter in 98 games atop the order. But Scutaro is not much of a base stealer (2-for-5 in attempts while batting leadoff), has an OBP more than 20 points lower than Ellsbury had in his spectacular 2009 campaign and the Ellsbury-Pedroia tandem simply has the potential to completely alter an opposing pitcher's plan of attack.

When Ellsbury returned for three games in late-May, Pedroia was mired in a prolonged slump. The two never really provided much offensively in that short stint. But revisiting the previous time they were on the same page reveals the potential punch the Sox will continue to lack.

In the game that Ellsbury was first hurt in a collision with Adrian Beltre down the left-field line in Kansas City, he and Pedroia combined to go 6-for-10 with three runs scored, a stolen base (Ellsbury's) and a homer (Pedroia's) in an 8-6 win.

The day before that they teamed to go 4-for-8 with four RBIs, three runs scored and another Pedroia homer as Boston rolled 8-3.

It was just six games into the season but the tandem was setting the table as the club had hoped it would all season long. We were about to see that pairing once more, but with another stint on the sidelines for Ellsbury we may just have to wait 'til next year.

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