July 12, 2012

Red Sox in second half: Hardly a healthy situation

Boston remains a contender, but multiple injuries led to the team's worst first half since 1997.

By HOWARD ULMAN The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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David Ortiz remains a fixture in the Red Sox lineup, on pace for his largest home-run total since finishing with 54 in 2006. But the lineup around him has been clustered with players pressed into service because of injuries to one front-liner after another. And the team is 43-43.

The Associated Press

Jacoby Ellsbury, Bobby Valentine
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Jacoby Ellsbury, right, with Manager Bobby Valentine, played just seven games before being sidelined.

The Associated Press

Additional Photos Below

The brightest spots have been Ortiz and the relievers. He has 22 homers and is on pace to hit his most since 2006 (54). He's also batting .312.

The bullpen performed poorly early in the season but has been outstanding since, and has a 3.12 ERA.

But Boston's second-half success depends primarily on the top of the rotation, which has been healthy most of the season.

Beckett is 4-7 with a 4.43 ERA, Lester is 5-6 with a 4.49 and Clay Buchholz is 8-2 (5.53). Daniel Bard began the season as a starter but is now at Triple-A Pawtucket after struggling with his control. He's 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA.

Can the Red Sox contend if Beckett and Lester don't improve?

"No," Valentine said.

The manager's rapport with his players also had some rocky moments.

After the ninth game of the season, Valentine said on WHDH-TV that he didn't think Youkilis was "as physically or emotionally into the game." His teammates came to Youkilis' defense and Valentine apologized the next day.

Pedroia was one of Youkilis' more vocal supporters.

"I know he plays as hard as anybody I've ever seen in my life. I have his back and his teammates have his back," he said.

Now Youkilis is gone and Pedroia anticipates a better second half for himself and the team.

"We're going to have some other guys get back here pretty soon. Guys are going to have to step up and play good baseball. I'll be back in a few weeks," he said.

And health is the key for a team that has placed an AL-high 20 players on the disabled list.

"When we have everybody back and people make mistakes against us, we can come back," Ortiz said. "We have to be healthy."


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Additional Photos

Carl Crawford
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Carl Crawford was supposed to be a stabilizing force for years in left field. Instead he had a down year in his debut season for Boston in 2011, and hasn’t played at all this year because of injury.

The Associated Press

Josh Beckett
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Josh Beckett, along with Jon Lester, needs to be a dominant starter in the second half of the season if the Red Sox, just 21⁄2 games out of a playoff berth, are to make a run.

The Associated Press


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