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 Red Sox lose Youkilis for rest of 2010 season

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PostSubject: Red Sox lose Youkilis for rest of 2010 season   Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:04 pm

Red Sox lose Youkilis for rest of season
Star first baseman to have surgery to repair injured thumb

By Ian Browne / MLB.com

08/05/10 7:26 PM ET

BOSTON -- Kevin Youkilis went to Cleveland for a second opinion, but it only confirmed what the Red Sox had feared was inevitable. The invaluable first baseman won't play another baseball game until Spring Training of 2011.

Youkilis will undergo surgery to repair a torn abductor muscle in his right thumb at the Cleveland Clinic on Friday.

"I think Youk was pretty [resigned] to the fact that this was probably what was going to happen," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I think I knew. We had talked the last couple of days. We pretty much had an idea this was a pretty good possibility. As much as we love having Youk on the field, I would have a much harder time sending him out there knowing that he might really hurt himself. That's no good."

In a season in which the Red Sox have had a near unfathomable amount of major injuries to key players, this one might top the list simply because of the season-ending nature of it.

In recent weeks, Boston has gotten Victor Martinez, Josh Beckett and Jacoby Ellsbury back in the lineup, and Dustin Pedroia should return in the not too distant future. But Youkilis was left with no choice but to have surgery.

"He needs to have it repaired," said general manager Theo Epstein. "He wouldn't be able to play at a high level without surgery. I guess the silver lining is it's a fairly straightforward procedure. They're very confident it will go well and he'll be able to have a pretty normal offseason and be 100 percent for Spring Training. The bad news is we lose a big part of our heart and soul and one of the best hitters and best players in the league. That's not the type of guy you can replace, so it's a blow."

Youkilis sustained the injury while taking a swing in Monday night's game against Cleveland. Initially, the hope was that it was just a jammed thumb. But follow-up tests revealed the tear of the abductor muscle, an injury that is extremely rare for a baseball player.

"This was [Red Sox medical director] Tom Gill's initial diagnosis as well," said Epstein. "But it wasn't certain. There was still a little bit of gray area. The reason we sent him to see a couple of specialists was to get a more definite image. Today, with the MRI, they were able to get one that confirmed beyond any doubt that the head of the adductor muscle was indeed torn. That creates a certain plan of attack."

The surgery will be performed by Dr. Thomas Graham, who conducted Thursday's second opinion.

The Red Sox are fortunate to have an established veteran to replace Youkilis at first base in Mike Lowell, who had been seldom-used up to this point in the season. Epstein will work the phones in search of a left-handed bat who could complement Lowell, but doesn't expect to be able to make an acquisition of high impact.

Boston entered Thursday night's game trailing the Yankees by 6 1/2 games in the American League East and the Rays by six in the AL Wild Card standings. The Sox will try to fight their way back into contention without a key piece, knowing that it won't be easy.

"It's a major hit," said slugger David Ortiz. "Things just got worse around here, huh? It's crazy. That's a major hit. A major hit."

Still, Ortiz emphasized the need for the Red Sox -- who are armed with a terrific starting rotation and some highly-skilled hitters -- to keep fighting.

"We've got to battle back," Ortiz said. "We've got to keep on fighting. It's not over yet. You know what I'm saying? You can't hang it up. Of course, you want to have Youk in the lineup doing his thing, helping us out the way he normally does. But if you can't, you've got to try to compete and whatever happens, happens. You know what I'm saying? Definitely, we're going to try to fight back and put ourselves in a situation where we can be playing ball in October."

Youkilis' thumb will be immobilized for six weeks. He will be back at full strength in 2011.

"Yes, that's the big reason they're doing it now," Francona said. "If he tried to play and did something to further injure that, then you're running the risk that it doesn't come back the way you want it to. We don't need that."

Youkilis plans on staying with the team for the remainder of the season. In fact, he will join them on the upcoming road trip if the doctors give him clearance to do so.

"He's one of the best players we have," Ortiz said. "No question about it. Not having his defense, his bat, his enthusiasm, it's crazy. It's not what you want to see, but you've got to what you've got to do. You've got to take care of that because this ain't the last year of this ballclub. He's got to come back healthy next year and continue doing his thing. He's a master piece here of this ballclub and everybody knows that."

Youkilis, who hurt the thumb while getting jammed on Monday, was batting .307 with 19 homers, 62 RBIs and .411 on-base percentage.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


"If you have to choose between power and speed and it often turns out you have to make that choice, you've got to go for speed." Source: TV Guide Interview (April 3, 1982)
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