SAN FRANCISCO -- All season the Red Sox have been asked to withstand the loss of significant players, a list that includes ace Josh Beckett and dynamic leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury. But now manager Terry Francona's team is about to face its stiffest challenge of the season thanks to Saturday morning's news that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be lost for at least the next few weeks with a non-displaced fracture in the navicular bone of his left foot.
The club has not issued a specific timetable for Pedroia, as team doctors were still poring over the images in the hours leading up to Saturday's game. Pedroia will be examined by team doctors, including medical director Tom Gill and foot specialist George Theodore, when the club returns to Boston on Monday.
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"I'm upset. It's pretty tough," said Pedroia. "But I'll try to get back in there and heal as fast as possible."
Pedroia sustained the injury in the third inning of Friday night's game, when he fouled a ball squarely off the instep of his foot. Initial X-rays taken on Friday did not show a break, but the fact that Pedroia needed crutches to walk and a walking boot did not seem like a good sign.
The two-time All-Star, who was the American League's Most Valuable Player in 2008, underwent further testing on Saturday morning, at which point the non-displaced fracture was spotted in the mid-bone of Pedroia's left foot.
"He'll be looked at in person Monday, but the studies are trying to be looked at now," said Francona. "We don't know the extent, so the time down will be dependent on how bad this is, and we don't know that yet."
The Red Sox placed Pedroia on the 15-day disabled list and recalled infielder Angel Sanchez from Triple-A Pawtucket. Veteran Bill Hall started Saturday's game at second base and figures to see the bulk of the playing time there during Pedroia's absence, though there's always a chance general manager Theo Epstein will acquire a player from outside the organization.
In addition to being one of Boston's best hitters, Pedroia is an elite defender, a good baserunner and the team's emotional leader.
"He means a lot," said Hall. "To me he's our second captain. Obviously, [Jason Varitek] is No. 1. Pedey, with his emotion and how hard he plays and the big hits he gets, he means a lot to this team emotionally and playing baseball itself. We're going to miss him a lot. I don't know what his plan is, if he's going to stay around. But if he's in the dugout, I know he's going to be rooting for us and giving us that same energy, and we're going to need that."
Even on the heels of the tough news, Pedroia expressed enthusiasm that his teammates could pick him up, however long he is out.
"We'll be fine," he said. "We'll find ways to win. We've had guys get hurt all year and we've still been able to win games. I don't see why we still can't do that. Everyone is going to have to step up and find a way to win ballgames."
The injury occurred while Pedroia was in the middle of his best stretch of the season. In Thursday night's game at Colorado, he provided a career performance, belting three homers among five hits while driving in five in a 13-11 victory in 10 innings.
"I'm disappointed, but there's nothing we can do," Francona said. "The level of my disappointment's not going to make him heal quicker. I felt bad for him. He comes in today, and he's already wanting to know who's going to play second. I've never seen a kid care more about a team. All the things I've said for the past four years, they all still ring true. This kid is as legit a player -- and a person -- as you're ever going to find. When things go bad, you see people's true colors. His true colors came out today. He's so upset because he knows he helps us win. So we'll find a way to win."
The Red Sox are hoping that the same determination that makes Pedroia such a great player will help speed his recovery process.
"When we know the severity of it, we'll have some parameters. I think anyone who's been around Dustin expects him to be quicker than anybody humanly possible, healing," said Francona.
Pedroia immediately asked the doctors how much time he would miss.
"They don't know," he said. "I could feel fine in two weeks and then play. Or maybe I can't walk until six weeks. They don't know. I don't really know that. In the past I've healed pretty quick. Hopefully I do that this time."
In 73 games this season, Pedroia is hitting .292 with 24 doubles, 12 homers, 41 RBIs, eight stolen bases and a .370 on-base percentage.
The Red Sox will also be without Ellsbury and Beckett for at least the next couple of weeks.
Ellsbury has only played nine games this season because of multiple fractures in his left ribs. Beckett has just one win and hasn't pitched since May 18 because of back and lat woes.
Yet the Red Sox entered Saturday's game just three games behind the Yankees in the American League East.
"We have a lot of really good players, so hopefully we'll be fine," Pedroia said.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.