PAWTUCKET – The in-game injuries keep piling up for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Promising player Yamaico Navarro became the latest casualty Tuesday afternoon, joining an ever-expanding list of PawSox bitten by the injury bug.
Navarro immediately grabbed his left side after a bunt single in the first inning, giving off the vibe that something wasn’t quite right. Those suspicions were confirmed when Nate Spears replaced Navarro in right field in the top of the second.
“He hurt his back,” was the update Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler offered after Pawtucket dropped a 7-2 decision to Toledo. “Hopefully it’s just a little strain or something, but he hurt it coming out of the box when he bunted that ball. It just tightened up, but hopefully that’s all it is.”
It’s quickly reaching the point where Beyeler may have to take a page out of the NFL and compile an injury report. This Thursday marks the two-week anniversary of outfield prospect Ryan Kalish going down with a left shoulder strain, an injury that has placed his season in limbo. Monday saw fellow outfielder J.C. Linares join the walking wounded after rolling his left ankle while attempting to slide into second base.
Beyeler didn’t sound too optimistic about Linares, who was sporting crutches and a brace on his foot Wednesday morning while lying on a couch in the clubhouse. The Cuban defector, replaced on the roster by lefty pitcher Kris Johnson, was scheduled to undergo a MRI later in the day.
The pitching staff is also feeling the pinch as reliever Randy Williams was placed on the disabled list with left shoulder troubles just prior to first pitch. Williams made two scoreless appearances after being activated off the D.L. last Saturday. Beyeler was hopeful that he could get two innings out of Williams Monday night, but the 35-year-old was only able to pitch one frame.
Beyeler also divulged that outfielder Josh Reddick had to be taken out after cracking a nail on a bunt attempt. His removal resulted in Matt Sheely making his first appearance of the season. Sheely, who took the place of Williams on the roster, struck out on three pitches in the ninth inning.
“The ball whacked him while it was on the bat,” said Beyeler about Reddick.
Needless to say, Wednesday’s scheduled off day couldn’t come at a better time for the snake-bitten PawSox, who have dropped five of their last seven ballgames.
“We probably need a week off to get guys healed up. There are a few guys who are banged up and tight,” noted Beyeler. “We’ve had a couple of tough days.”
One day after belting five home runs, the PawSox stranded 11 baserunners and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. In the fourth Pawtucket had the bases loaded with one out but couldn’t capitalize after shortstop Jose Iglesias popped up to second and Spears followed with a fly out to center.
Another missed opportunity arose in the seventh, when Lars Anderson came up with runners on second and third and Pawtucket trailing, 5-3. The first baseman promptly struck out.
“We’ve been a dangerous team, but not a good situational team,” said Beyeler, clearly bothered by the all-or-nothing approach of Pawtucket’s offense over the past two games. “As far as grinding out at-bats and moving runners, we need to do more of that instead of popping up or striking out. A lot of that goes back to being a selfish hitter and trying to bring your numbers up instead of being a team player.”
Victor Martinez was asked if he remains in contact with any of his former Red Sox teammates. Naturally David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia came up, but so did Boston bullpen coach Gary Tuck. In fact Martinez credits Tuck, a noted catching guru, for helping him turn things around after the 32-year-old had trouble throwing out baserunners early last season.
“Everyone wants to improve, and if you keep working, sooner or later you’re going to turn it around,” said Martinez, who will be reinstated from the disabled list by Detroit on Wednesday. “Gary Tuck, he was with me 24-7. He worked with me a lot. Everything I did last year, it’s because of him. He’s very patient and made me better.”
The topic of Daniel Nava’s troubles at the plate recently came up, as the outfielder/DH entered Tuesday hitting .158. Nava then went out and delivered a single and a double, perhaps a sign that a turnaround is on the horizon.
“I’m seeing a guy who’s battling and is not comfortable,” assessed Beyeler about Nava, who raised his average to .175. “He’s in one of those cycles where the pitches he’s taking are strikes and the ones he’s swinging at aren’t very good pitches.”
Beyeler was asked what the procedure is when a hitter is scuffling.
“Some of them hit until their hands bleed,” said the skipper, “but sometimes you can go a little overboard and need to just get away. If [snapping out of a hitting funk] was so easy, one guy would come in here and flip the switch. It doesn’t work that way, so you’ve got to keep working at it.”