Detroit Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch has been one of the club’s most pleasant surprises this year. Now, it appears, he’s facing surgery on his left thumb. The only question is when that surgery might take place.
Boesch, who hasn’t played since August 24 after feeling intense pain in his thumb and forearm, is not in the lineup tonight as his club faces the Kansas City Royals. He first injured the thumb on August 10, but after missing a handful of games he was able to return. The Tigers are hoping that they can stabilize the injury enough to get his bat back into the lineup soon, but they concede that even if Boesch is able to play through the injury in the short term, he will have to go under the knife once the season ends.
The timing of Boesch injury isn’t good with his team in the midst of a pennant race. Compounding the problem for Detroit is an injury to Ryan Raburn, who had figured to get the majority of the at bats in Boesch’s place. Utilityman Don Kelly will make the start in right field tonight, as Magglio Ordonez has been anything but stellar offensively or defensively this season.
The key going forward for the Tigers will be how well Boesch can adjust to the discomfort in his thumb. When he first returned from the injury, he was compensating for the pain. This lead to inflammation in his forearm, which has prompted his latest stint of inactivity. Not only did his compensating hurt his arm, but Boesch’s numbers dropped dramatically as well. In the seven games he played in between the original injury and the forearm strain, Boesch managed just one extra base hit and struck out eight times in 24 at bats.
If Boesch’s thumb cannot be stabilized to the point that he is once again an effective hitter, the Tigers will have to hope that Raburn can come back quickly from his finger ailment. Going without Boesch wouldn’t be ideal, but Raburn has an OPS of .887 this month, so he is more than capable of picking up the slack offensively. Being without both Raburn and Boesch, however, leave the Tigers with a punch-less right fielder and, on days when Ordonez is patrolling right, an even worse defensive unit.
Of course, with rosters expanding on Thursday, the Tigers will be able to add Andy Dirks to the mix as well. While he doesn’t hit like Boesch or Raburn are capable of, he is an outstanding defender and another decent left handed bat. Dirks is currently recovering from a hand injury himself, but is expected to return to action with Triple-A Toledo soon.