Boesch confident thumb injury isn't too serious
Tigers left fielder exits after aggravating sprain in first-inning at-bat
CLEVELAND -- The one piece of good news to come out of the Tigers clubhouse after Wednesday's 10-3 loss to the Indians was that Brennan Boesch's right thumb injury doesn't appear to be more than a sprain.
The tough part is determining how long he'll be out, and how the Tigers will go along without him.
Boesch left in the second inning after aggravating the sprain on a swing and miss against Ubaldo Jimenez in his first-inning at-bat, a strikeout, and was replaced by Don Kelly. He originally injured it on a similar swing early in Tuesday's loss, but played through it for the remainder of the 14 innings.
The left fielder thought he could do the same Wednesday with his wrist and hand bandaged up, but it didn't take him long to realize he couldn't swing.
"It's not the type of injury where an easy swing is probably going to irritate it," Boesch said. "It's when the game starts and you let it fly, if I swing and miss, it's really what's the problem right now. Ubaldo Jimenez throws hard and I swung and missed and re-aggravated it to the point where I felt I could not do my job today.
"There's no need, in a pennant race, to go out there if you can't perform. I've got to get the swelling out, first things first, and get back on the field."
Boesch's first task Thursday will be an MRI exam to make sure the Tigers are not missing something worse. X-rays taken Wednesday night suggested nothing more than swelling, Boesch said, and the Tigers' hand specialist -- who happened to be in town for the game -- reached a similar diagnosis.
"There's no fracture or anything," Boesch said. "I think it's all just swollen. Once that gets out, I'm sure I'll be fine."
How long that will take is the question. Boesch wasn't ruling out playing in Thursday's series finale against the Indians if they can get the swelling out enough.
"I think it's possible," Boesch said. "I ended the game yesterday with a swollen thumb and tried to play today and it didn't work out. But if it feels better after the ice and there's nothing wrong with it, I can deal with the pain. It's not that. It's just being able to use my thumb with the inflammation."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland wasn't so sure.
"I'm sure Boesch won't be able to play tomorrow," he said.
The injury is something Boesch said he has dealt with a few times in pro ball. It's a product of his hands coming together on his swing, he said, and it's usually something that wearing a pad can clear up.
"It's the top hand that crushes the bottom hand with my swing," he said. "I guess it's a violent swing. I don't even know I'm swinging hard, but sometimes your body lets you know."
Boesch did not let Leyland know entirely how much it was hurting, but Leyland said he could tell through his assurances during batting practice that something was wrong.
"I actually kind of smelled it in BP," Leyland said. "When you know your players, I could kind of tell by the look on his face. I was checking with him, but he really wasn't very assuring to me that everything was OK, although he said he was fine. I was a little skeptical about it."
He went ahead and started him, but once Boesch realized he couldn't swing effectively, he realized he couldn't do much good. If Boesch can't play on Thursday, Leyland said Andy Dirks would probably get the start in left.
Boesch is hitting .285 with 24 doubles, 16 home runs and 54 RBIs, and he has settled into the second spot in the order ahead of the run-production trio of Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Any injury that hampers his swing for more than a couple of days could be an issue. Leadoff man Austin Jackson is already dealing with a wrist injury that has affected him at the plate.