05/12/2002 01:37 am ET
Ramirez fractures finger, returns to Boston
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- One of the keys to the Red Sox's fast start was that they were able to keep their star players healthy. But that changed in a hurry Saturday night, as Manny Ramirez fractured his left index finger making a head-first dive into home plate in the top of the second inning of Boston's 3-1 loss to the Mariners.
Ramirez, who started the game in right field, was attempting to score from first on Shea Hillenbrand's double to left. But as he was tagged out, his hand got jammed into catcher Dan Wilson's shin guard.
Initially, it didn't seem to be that serious, as Ramirez played defense in the bottom of the second inning. But when he came back in, the finger had swelled to the point where he had to be removed from the game and taken for X-rays. The X-rays showed what manager Grady Little termed "a little fracture."
But the true extent of the injury won't be known until Sunday, when Ramirez flies back to Boston to be examined by team physician Bill Morgan.
Obviously, Ramirez will miss Sunday night's finale of the 10-game road trip. Beyond that, the Red Sox had no idea how long he would be out.
"You have to determine how bad the fracture is first," said Little. "Then we'll see. If he's out of the lineup one day we'll miss him."
The Red Sox weren't willing to even guess how long Ramirez might be sidelined. It's simply too early.
"Anything I might say would be layman's speculation at best," said Sox interim GM Mike Port. "I'll just go with what Grady said -- losing Manny Ramirez for one game is one game too many. As a team we'll deal with whatever we need to deal with."
Ramirez -- Boston's cleanup hitter -- is off to the type of start that demonstrates why he is one of the game's elite hitters. He's hitting .372 with nine homers and 35 RBIs.
Will Ramirez have to go on the disabled list?
"Expectation? Yes," said Port. "But we don't want to get too far in front of things until we see what Dr. Morgan says."
Ramirez's teammates were taking a similar wait and see approach.
"We have to wait and see what happens, you don't want to jump to conclusions," said Boston's Brian Daubach. "But he's a guy who hits 40 home runs and 100-whatever RBIs every year. But we are pretty deep. Hopefully we can get by while he's out."
Rickey Henderson and Daubach will get the majority of starts in left while Ramirez is sidelined.
"It's definitely going to be a tough situation to overcome, but fortunately we have a guy named Rickey Henderson who can go out and play some defense and hopefully ignite us from the top [of the order]," said center fielder Johnny Damon. "Finding a guy to hit like Manny? You can't go around the league and find one. We'll be just fine. We all need to step up and do better while he's out."
Walk on the wild side
It's amazing the Sox only surrendered three runs and stayed in Saturday's game, considering their pitching staff issued 11 walks.
Lefty Darren Oliver had a particularly tough outing. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings, walking five. In fact, all five of those walks came in the second inning.
"It was just one of those days. I don't have too many of those," said Oliver, who fell to 4-2. "I just couldn't get the feel of the ball today. I was very lucky to only give up those couple of runs. [Tim] Wakefield came in and did a great job and kept the game close."
Again, Wakefield showed why he is such a valuable commodity. Though the knuckleballer walked five, he allowed only one run in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out six.
Damon was more concerned about the team's lack of offense than the pitching.
"We're not doing anything offensively," said Damon. "We didn't take too many good swings tonight."
So much for Nixon's night off
The injury to Ramirez signaled an abrupt halt to what was supposed to be a rare night off for Trot Nixon.
Little had planned on resting Nixon against lefty John Halama. Nixon is 3-for-21 against lefties for the season, including 11 strikeouts. He is having a terrific road trip (11-for-25, 6 RBIs), so Little was trying to keep his right fielder's momentum going.
"It's kind of a dual-purpose day off for Trot," Little said before the game. "He deserves some time off, as hard as he plays."
That time off will have to come some other time.
Martinez hopes to keep up Mariners' mastery
Pedro Martinez has had more success against the Mariners (8-0, 0.89 ERA) than any other American League team.
But heading into his start against them Sunday, he had no clue as to why he's dominated them so thoroughly.
"Thank you for trying to jinx me," Martinez told a reporter who blurted the stat out to him. "It's just pitching. They probably find me on my good day and other teams have found me on my bad day. I pitch the same way against every team."
Ian Browne covers the Red Sox for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.