BOSTON -- No one in a Boston Red Sox uniform, it appears, is safe. At any time.
What other conclusion can possibly be drawn after the Red Sox lost slugger David Ortiz to a heel injury Monday?
Boston's lone All-Star, Ortiz suffered the injury while circling the bases on a tie-breaking, three-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez, who was just getting over back spasms caused last weekend when he bent over to greet a kid in a stroller.
"This (expletive) team is cursed," Ortiz said humorlessly as he limped toward the showers, his mood darkened by the knowledge that he will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to determine the severity of the injury.
Ortiz left Fenway Park without the aid of crutches and was hopeful that the injury was not serious.
"I got sore," he said, "But I didn't hear any pop. That's a good sign. We'll see. We'll know more tomorrow. I think I'll be all right."
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine agreed, stating that he didn't think Ortiz would miss more than a few days.
"We're not going to lose him for long," Valentine said.
At the moment, that can only be considered a guess, until doctors take a closer look.
Uncertain whether the ball would reach the seats, Ortiz was running hard when he rounded second. That's when he sustained the injury, according to Valentine. He made his way slowly the rest of the way to home plate and was limping badly by the time he reached the dugout, hobbling down the steps.
Ortiz has had heel problems before. After trying to play through the pain last season, he was sidelined for nine games in August with what was diagnosed as bursitis in the same heel.
Until Monday night, Ortiz had avoided the slew of injuries that so far has sent 21 Red Sox players to the disabled list for 24 DL stints, costing the team almost a thousand games missed.
This was to have been a night of celebrating the return of one injured player, Crawford, who was playing in his first game all season, and another, Jacoby Ellsbury, who had not played in Fenway for more than three months.
Instead, the Red Sox were left to ponder losing Ortiz, the man who has been their best hitter all season. He ranks in the top 10 in 11 major offensive categories, including batting average, home runs, runs, total bases, doubles, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and extra-base hits.
The injury comes at a time when Ortiz was on a tear of historic parameters. With a walk and single Monday, Ortiz has had at least a hit and a walk in each of his past 10 games, setting a club record that had been held by Ted Williams (nine, 1950). In his past 18 games dating to June 25, the day after Kevin Youkilis was traded, Ortiz is batting .383 (23 for 60) with four doubles, five home runs, nine runs and 17 RBIs.
This is hardly an optimal time for the Red Sox to lose Ortiz. They are four games into a stretch in which they are playing five teams (Rays, White Sox, Rangers, Yankees and Tigers) who are either in first place in their division or won a division title last season. The only exception in that stretch is three games with Toronto this weekend.
"It's tough," Gonzalez said when asked if losing Ortiz under those circumstances redefined the meaning of snakebit. "You never want to see that.
"I'm not medical staff, but I'm concerned. I don't know what they (Ortiz and medical personnel) talked about, but as soon as he came off the field, I prayed for him. Hopefully, he'll feel better tomorrow."
Valentine wasn't buying any snakebit talk.
"We've been playing short all year," he said. "No need to start anything now."
Should Ortiz require a trip to the disabled list, catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway would appear to top the list of potential replacements.
Lavarnway did not play Monday after catching all 14 innings of Triple-A Pawtucket's win and going 0 for 6 the previous day, dropping his average to .299. He is batting just .195 in his past 10 games (8 for 41), but his overall OPS is .833 and he displayed his power in a September call-up last season, when he homered twice in the season's next-to-last game.