Just before the season started, the cynics predicted the Red Sox would miss the playoffs. They claimed that Theo Epstein's roster, as assembled, couldn't compete in the American League East. They scoffed at the signings of Bill Hall, Scott Atchison, and Jeremy Hermida, and insisted that the likes of Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron couldn't possibly contribute enough.
Three months and change later, and those doomsayers look even more foolish than usual, as key contributions have come from, of all people, Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald, and Atchison, among others.
Somehow, the Sox are just two games out of first place in their division, while the Rays, who were the fashionable favorites early on to run away with it, are in third place. All this despite a rash of injuries, including many to key players, including Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, and now Dustin Pedroia.
According to the Boston Globe's Extra Bases blog, the injury bug isn't about to abate, as most of the key players are weeks away from rejoining the team. Beckett, though feeling better, still needs to complete a rehab assignment, and the Globe's Pete Abraham puts his return around the last week in July. Ellsbury is a mystery. The outfielder is still in Arizona, and no one seems to know how long the recovery will take, so don't hold your breath on seeing him before the All-Star break.
As for the more recent injuries, Pedroia will be out approximately six weeks with his left-foot fracture (I'm dying already), while Victor Martinez is a rare bright spot, who might - MIGHT - be able to play in a few days if his swelling goes down, even with a fractured left thumb.
This team has showed uncommon pluck in 2010, and if they can just weather the storm for a few weeks more and stay in contention until after the All-Star Game, help should be returning in droves. I for one think they can do it, especially if Pedroia hangs around the clubhouse in the meantime. What he means to that team in terms of spirit and drive absolutely cannot be overstated, and if he can be around to encourage and talk trash at the appropriate times, I think they'll pull through.
Baseball gods willing.