scorecardresearch Skip to main content
Alex Speier | On Baseball

Depth up the middle helps Red Sox get past rash of injuries

A hand injury sustained by Yu Chang on Monday is another challenge for Boston's infield depth.Julio Cortez/Associated Press

BALTIMORE — When did the middle of the field turn into the Red Sox’ Bermuda Triangle?

Yu Chang — who’d unexpectedly emerged as the team’s regular shortstop in the last week — suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand on Monday, and likely will undergo surgery on Thursday that will keep him sidelined until June. He will join fellow middle infielders Trevor Story and Adalberto Mondesí as well as outfielder Adam Duvall on the injured list.

Where does that leave the Sox?

“Me and [former big league infielder and current Sox bench coach Ramón Vázquez] are trying to lose weight, to get ready,” manager Alex Cora joked prior to the Sox’ 8-6 win over the Orioles.


The depth test hasn’t quite gotten dire to the point of summoning quadragenarians from retirement, but certainly has assumed unexpected and almost absurd lengths less than four weeks into the season.

On one hand, the Sox have handled it fairly well to this point. The ability of Kiké Hernández to triangulate between short (where he opened the season, and where he returned on Tuesday), center (where he moved after Duvall’s injury until Jarren Duran’s callup), and second (where he played with Chang) has freed the Sox to mix and match with a variety of players.

The outrageous season-opening performance of Duvall, the surprising contributions of Chang before his injury ( three homers in eight games), and the impressive multi-dimensional impact of Jarren Duran (.333/.375/.481 entering Tuesday against the Orioles) have allowed the Sox— to this point — to avoid the lineup collapse that occurred last season, when both Story and Christian Arroyo got hurt. The team is hopeful the pattern will hold in the wake of Chang’s trip to the injured list.

“[This year’s injuries have] been tough blows. But the organization has taken pride in finding depth at multiple positions, and I think we have personnel capable of filling in roles that are going to make us not lose that much in terms of production,” said Hernández. “Obviously, Duvall was probably the hottest hitter in baseball at the time, but Jarren has come up and stepped in beautifully in that role. Yu Chang was playing great up to [Monday]. Arroyo got a couple of days off to get some body and mind breaks. I have a lot of faith that he is a well above-average baseball player. I think we’re in good hands still.”


Still, each injury to an up-the-middle player serves to pick at the scab of the tandem offseason events of Xander Bogaerts’s departure in free agency and the need for Story to get his ulnar collateral ligament reattached to the bone. Yet even with Bogaerts off to an outstanding start in San Diego (.330/.417/.545), Red Sox players have declined to think wistfully of their former teammate against the backdrop of their rash of injuries.

“He’s on another team,” shrugged Hernández. “What do you want me to do?”

“[This year’s injuries have] been tough blows. But the organization has taken pride in finding depth at multiple positions, and I think we have personnel capable of filling in roles that are going to make us not lose that much in terms of production,” said Kiké Hernández.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The front office takes a similar view.

“Understanding everything emotionally that the organization goes through with some of those roads not taken and that our fans go through, I don’t mean to minimize that at all,” said chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. “But I actually think a lot of what we’ve seen so far this season I think has been a credit to some of those players that we did bring in in the offseason and who have had chances.


“Obviously, some of them aren’t able to be on the field right now, but that is part of the game. I think from day one of spring training, there’s a lot of things to like about this group, but one of the best things about this group is that they have been worried about who’s here and what they’re trying to accomplish.”

With Chang down, the Sox summoned second baseman Enmanuel Valdez from Triple-A Worcester to join the “Next Man Up” conga line. The lefthanded hitter is expected to get regular starts against righties. The team also could have called up David Hamilton — who is off to a .339/.397/.600 start with four homers for the WooSox — but preferred that the second baseman/shortstop further solidify offseason swing and approach changes while getting a foundation in Triple-A.

“It’s good that we have really multiple players who we like and who we hope are going to be real parts of this thing for a while,” Bloom said of the decision.

To date, the Sox have been able to endure their rash of injuries while continuing to put up impressive offensive numbers. That challenge will continue through May and likely at least into June.

But while it won’t be soon, there will come a point where players start returning from the injured list. Story has already started throwing and will soon start swinging again. His rehab to date bodes well for a midseason return.


“Everything [in his recovery] has been by the book,” said Bloom. “He feels great, looks great.”

Duvall could start swinging by late-May. Mondesí — whose timetable to return has been slower than the Sox expected when they acquired him from the Royals in a trade — is slowly making progress in Fort Myers.

“We’ve known the whole year that the team is probably going to look a lot different come July,” said Hernández. “Hopefully we’ll get Trevor back by then and hopefully we get Duvall back. And I think with Trevor and Adam in the lineup, it’s going to be a completely different lineup. I like our team. We play in a really tough division, but I think we have a really good baseball team.”

The next six weeks will certainly test that proposition, along with the team’s depth.

“That’s part of the gig,” said Bloom. “It’s part of what it means to go through a baseball season.”

Alex Speier can be reached at Follow him @alexspeier.