Boston Red Sox Slowly Overcoming Injuries; Face Division Rival Rays This Weekend

The Boston Red Sox begin an important three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday with two key players coming off the disabled list.

Star center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the 2011 American League MVP runner-up, is scheduled to be activated tomorrow from a shoulder injury after playing only seven games this season. Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz is returning from a stomach illness and is scheduled to face off against the Ray’s David Price on Saturday.

After a lackluster 2011, left fielder Carl Crawford (the former Ray star) hasn’t played at all this season but apparently may be activated on Monday, although he may need Tommy John surgery on his elbow, unusual for a position player.

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, whose production prompted the Kevin Youkilis trade, is also coming back from a sore hamstring. Dustin Pedroia, the heart and soul of the team, is expected back in lineup soon after a thumb injury.

The Red Sox have been plagued with injuries to frontline players all season, but the main issue with the team’s underperformance has been starting pitching. As Boston.com points out, “starters Josh Beckett and Jon Lester have combined for nine wins in 32 starts.” Manager Bobby Valentine admitted that the team can’t contend unless those two get their act together. The bullpen has for most part been solid. The offense, while potent, has been up and down.

Boston is 43-43, their worst record at the break in 15 years, and tied for last place in the division with the Toronto Blue Jays. They are only 2-1/2 games out of the American League Wild Card hunt, however.

As the Examiner.com observes, “The players returning from injury could help solidify the roster, which has already had 44 different players appear in a game. The Red Sox need a healthier team in the second half in order to play above.500 ball and move out of last place.”

Do you think the Boston Red Sox can go on a run and make the playoffs? Do you think they will make any trades before the trading deadline?