Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it's their most valuable player this season in designated hitter David Ortiz. After Ortiz received a second opinion on his sore heel in Miami on Wednesday, the team ultimately elected to set him on the shelf.
That's a difficult reality to accept, considering the grueling schedule that lies ahead for Boston. After the Red Sox wrap up their series against the White Sox, they'll have the Blue Jays, Rangers, Yankees and Tigers waiting for them, respectively.
It adds to the string of injuries that have plagued the Red Sox's star players, a list that includes Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Andrew Bailey, Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks, Cody Ross, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett.
Amid all the setbacks, Ortiz has been the lone constant for the Red Sox, mashing 23 home runs and 58 RBIs this season. Through the highs and lows, Ortiz has delivered at the plate and not just for power –– batting .316.
While the Red Sox have capable replacements at DH in Crawford, Daniel Nava and Mauro Gomez, none compare to the production that Ortiz has been churning out during the 2012 season.
"We're definitely going to miss him," Crawford said. "It's a big disappointment for us. He's a bat that we'll definitely miss in the lineup."
He'll be missed greatly come next week, since Boston will be forced to hit the road against the Rangers and Yankees without their lone All-Star. And the showdown in New York is a valuable opportunity for the Red Sox to attempt to gain ground in the AL East.
Given the new rules in MLB, the wild card race is heating up earlier than usual. Heading into Wednesday's game, the Red Sox were one game out of the wild card race in the American League.
Without Ortiz, the pressure to perform is peaking. Even Gomez couldn't fully savor his call up after hearing about his good friend Ortiz's injury.
"It's horrible news," Gomez said. "I hope he gets better soon and comes back healthy for us."
It could've been worse for Ortiz. If he'd suffered a ruptured right Achilles rounding the bases, the Red Sox designated hitter would have the missed the remainder of the 2012 season.
For the next two weeks, Ortiz's absence will be felt. It's up to the rest of the roster to hold the fort against the challenging competition ahead.
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