NEW YORK -- It figures that Dustin Pedroia would be injured playing hard in a game that had little consequence for the Boston Red Sox but mattered to him because it mattered in the bigger picture -- and because he knows no other way to play.
With the Sox trailing by three runs in the top of the eighth Sunday afternoon in Baltimore, the Orioles trying to remain in a first-place tie with the New York Yankees, Pedroia attempted to steal second base. He was gunned down by catcher Matt Wieters and jammed the ring finger on his left hand into the bag.
Pedroia did not play versus the Yankees on Monday, but other than joking about what ailed him -- "What's wrong with me? A lot of things. I'm [expletive] up in the head" -- he did not discuss the injury before the Red Sox's 10-2 loss, and neither did manager Bobby Valentine, other than to say Pedroia had gotten hurt the day before.
But after Monday night's loss, the Red Sox announced that Pedroia had an avulsion fracture of the ring finger of his left hand. The injury is expected to heal without surgery.
The Sox had indicated that Pedroia's season was over, but Pedroia, while confirming that his finger is broken, said in a text message late Monday night that he wasn't ready to rule out playing, saying he'd see how it felt Tuesday and "try to get out there."
Pedroia's season was hampered by multiple injuries to his right thumb. On May 28, he tore the adductor muscle in his right thumb. He did not go on the DL, although he missed seven games and his performance at the plate suffered noticeably. Then, on July 3, he hyperextended the same thumb while diving for a ball in Oakland and was placed on the disabled list. There had been concern that he would miss considerable time with the injury, but he returned after just 15 days.
Pedroia appeared in 139 games, batting .288 with a .344/.446/.790 line. After Aug. 5, he batted .337 (64-for-190) and had a 15-game hitting streak in that span.
In 2010, Pedroia missed 85 games after fracturing a bone in his left foot.
Because the season ends Wednesday, Pedroia will not go on the DL, even if his season is over. The Red Sox had 27 players on the disabled list this season, serving 34 stints.
Jacoby Ellsbury, who had just returned to the lineup Saturday after a six-game absence for a physical issue he refused to disclose, had said he intended to play the last few games of the season. But after playing the last two games of the Baltimore series, Ellsbury was back on the bench Monday. One reason, manager Bobby Valentine said, was because left-hander CC Sabathia was pitching for the Yankees.
Ellsbury is 6-for-28 (.214) lifetime against Sabathia, although one of his hits was a home run, which is one more than the rest of the Boston lineup combined has against the Yankees ace. Sabathia had never previously faced Mauro Gomez, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway or Che-Hsuan Lin, all of whom started Monday night.
The total salary of the Red Sox starting lineup was around $12.5 million, compared to $149.7 million for the Yankees, who had six players in their lineup who each make more than that. Valentine ($2.5 million) is being paid more than all but Clay Buchholz ($3.5 million), Cody Ross ($3 million) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia ($2.5 million).