Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Drew? Boo-Boo? Who Knew?

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the hyperbaric chamber...

J.D. Drew was sent back to Boston yesterday for an injection in his perpetually cranky back. No confirmation that general manager Theo Epstein has been scouring medical books trying to link the lower-back bone to the shoulder bone.

When Drew signed his five-year, $70 million deal before the 2007 season, it came only after the Red Sox made sure there was language in the contract that allowed the team to void the deal if Drew spent significant time on the DL because of his pre-existing shoulder injury.

Right idea, wrong body part. But clearly this is going to be an ongoing issue this season, seeing as though Drew missed all but two games over the final six weeks of the 2008 season because of his back and could well miss significant time again in 2009, forcing Rocco Baldelli into a role he himself might not be physically able to handle.

This, coming on the heels of Brad Penny's shutdown Monday with a stiff shoulder, has put a sudden, sobering end to Camp Boredom. John Smoltz and Mark Kotsay will eventaully come available to provide needed depth, but a rash of injuries early could put the Red Sox in such a division hole that all the reinforcements in the world might not be sufficient for a rescue.

What will be fascinating is if Drew's season ends on the DL, and he struggles again next February to stay loose. Would the Red Sox attempt to exercise the out in the contract? Save for one swing in October, 2007 and one month in 2008 (June), Drew has not come close to living up to the deal he signed. With Mike Lowell and Julio Lugo in the final years of their deals in 2010, might Theo start early on a housecleaning?

Better get back in the chamber, J.D.

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