HomeMLB RumorsMasataka Yoshida Avoids Surgery On Thumb, Facing Extended Absence

Masataka Yoshida Avoids Surgery On Thumb, Facing Extended Absence

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Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida was placed on the injured list at the start of May due to a sprained left thumb, but after he underwent an MRI it was reported that he would be receiving a second opinion on the injury, with surgery potentially on the table. That ominous signal eventually gave way to a more positive update yesterday after Boston received a third opinion on the injury, with Christopher Smith of MassLive among those to relay that manager Alex Cora told reporters Yoshida’s injury would not require surgery.

While the most worrisome outcome is now off the table for Yoshida, that isn’t saving him from an extended absence. Cora told reporters (including Smith) that the 30-year-old figures to return this season but also noted that the club will “see how he feels in a few weeks.” In the meantime, Cora added, Yoshida won’t be swinging the bat at all. With even the most optimistic reading of that language suggesting the earliest Yoshida could resume full baseball activities is early June, it appears safe to assume that he’ll have missed at least two months with the injury when all is said and done.

The lengthy absence comes at an unfortunate time for both Yoshida and the Red Sox. Now in the second season of his five-year, $90MM pact with Boston, Yoshida got off to a rough start this season with a .229/.302/.271 slash line in his first 53 trips to the plate this season but had begun to heat up in recent weeks, hitting a scorching .344/.417/.563 in his final ten games before being placed on the injured list. If Yoshida was beginning to get into a groove, it would’ve been a relief for a Red Sox offense that had recently lost young slugger Triston Casas to a rib fracture that figures to keep him out of action for the next several weeks, if not longer.

Without Yoshida and Casas in the mix for at-bats, the Red Sox have turned to players outside the organization to add some thump to the lineup. The club acquired first baseman Garrett Cooper from the Cubs and signed Dominic Smith to a one-year deal in recent weeks, though Cooper has hit a paltry .130/.231/.174 in 26 trips to the plate since arriving in Boston while Smith has similarly struggled to a .190/.227/.238 slash line so far in his Red Sox tenure. Both players’ struggles come in microscopic sample sizes and could certainly turn around in the coming weeks, but the tepid starts to their seasons do little to instill confidence in either player as quality options for regular at bats in the middle of the lineup.

Unfortunately, the club’s options in terms of internal help are fairly minimal. Infielders Bobby Dalbec and Enmanuel Valdez are on the 40-man roster at Triple-A, but both players faced even deeper struggles during cameos at the big league level than Cooper and Smith are currently scuffling through. First base prospect Niko Kavadas is hitting well at the Triple-A level this season and could be a potential solution, but the 25-year-old is not yet on the club’s 40-man roster and sports an unsustainable .375 BABIP that’s helped to bolster his numbers.

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