ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- You understand when there's a collision, or a ball is fouled off a foot or a thumb.
But to lose a player when he's stepping into the batter's box, before the pitcher has even released the ball? Even for a team that has learned to expect calamity to come calling, Kevin Youkilis' injury Tuesday night was a novel experience.
"I don't think anybody knew what happened,'' Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash said. "All of a sudden we look and he's sitting down next to home plate. I thought he just had a hamstring cramp.''
What it was, said a somewhat bewildered Youkilis, was a right ankle "cramp," which occurred in the joint capsule, the thick tissue that surrounds the ankle bones and around which the ligaments and tendons are wrapped.
The Red Sox first baseman said he was already feeling better by the end of the night, and expects to be back in the lineup Wednesday night. But his forced departure just as he was settling in to lead off the fourth inning was one too many losses for the Sox to overcome in a 3-2 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays may have been more aware than the Red Sox of how much discomfort Youkilis was experiencing. Rays catcher John Jaso said he noticed it in the bottom of the third, when he was standing on first base after leading off with a single.
"I could tell something was going on there with his ankle or foot,'' Jaso said. "I could tell when I was on first base something was really bothering him.''
Jaso was behind the plate when Youkilis began shaking his foot, before dropping to the ground. "I saw his face,'' Jaso said, "and it was just that look of pain or whatever. That was basically all I saw.''
Youkilis acknowledged that the foot began bothering him when he was still in the field.
"I wish I could tell you what happened,'' he said. "Basically I was out on the field and I felt like I had a cramp in my ankle, which is the most strange thing ever. Basically what they said is it's in the capsule. Somehow I irritated it and my whole ankle locked up.''
X-rays were negative, Youkilis said. "Basically, they treated it and about half an hour ago it started to get a little movement,'' he said. "I'll be good to go tomorrow.''
Youkilis speculated that playing on the Rays' artificial Field Turf surface might have been a factor, but one Rays official was dismissive of that notion.
"I think mine is just a daily thing,'' Youkilis said. "You got to move on. When you play 162 games in 187 days, there are going be days little things are going to happen. I don't know how Cal Ripken did it. It's amazing.''
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.