In the midst of the gloom, some good news: Jacoby Ellsbury wasn't fitted for a Papi-like cast for his strained right wrist.
No cast at all, in fact, for the Red Sox outfielder, even though he bent his right wrist backward while making a diving catch Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
"He had a good day," manager Terry Francona said, "probably not the funnest day for him. He got up early, was examined, had an MRI. Everything's come back really clean. I think he's excited, relieved. So are we."
Team medical director Thomas Gill suggested to Francona that Ellsbury might be available to pinch run, but the manager said he was not inclined to use Ellsbury in that capacity unless he was ready to hit. Ellsbury did not take batting practice on the field.
"I don't think this will be very long," Francona said. "I told him, 'Tell me when you're ready to play.' "
The Sox have a 28-15 record in games in which Ellsbury has batted leadoff. They are 10-11 in games in which he doesn't.
With Coco Crisp, who batted leadoff last night in the 8-0 loss to the Mariners, the Sox are 5-5.
"The best thing is there's nothing torn, nothing broke," said Ellsbury, who admitted he was alarmed when he rolled over on the wrist.
Asked when he might start swinging a bat, he said, "It's hard to say. There was a big improvement from yesterday to today, so hopefully [there will be] the same improvement tomorrow."
Ellsbury jammed his right wrist near the end of the 2005 season, his first in pro ball, and the Sox were still limiting his baseball activities in spring training the following year.
Schilling pleasedCurt Schilling, who threw 35 pitches yesterday in his second time off the mound, pronounced himself satisfied with the progress he has made to date, but is eager to see what happens when he starts facing hitters, the next significant stage in his rehab from biceps tendinitis in his right shoulder.
"I feel like, from a mechanical standpoint, that I kind of just fell back into my mechanics," he said. "Very comfortable, very free and easy. I feel like I'm getting after it a little bit, but physically I'm still very free and easy and fluid, which is a good thing.
"There are so many variables in play for me to come back. I've said since the beginning, No. 1 is I actually have to be good. This is not about, 'Hey, he's ready, let's clear a spot in the rotation for Curt Schilling.' The Boston Red Sox are trying to win a World Series. And if Curt Schilling can't be Game 5 World Series effective against anybody, then I'm not going to pitch."
Schilling sounded some cautionary notes about how long it may take David Ortiz to recover from the partial tear of the tendon sheath in his left wrist. Schilling, of course, ruptured the tendon protecting an ankle tendon, the prelude to the famous "bloody sock" episode during the 2004 American League Championship Series.
"It's scary," he said. "I've been around long enough to watch those things happen, and when you see what's written and said, in my mind it's always times two. OK, he's going to be in a cast for X amount of time, which means double that, because no one comes out of a cast, gets in the batter's box, and bats cleanup. Coming out of it, he might get out quicker, but there's still a lot of time on top of the time he's out. But at the same time, this is a world championship-caliber team. We will not not win the World Series because David Ortiz is not playing. We're not built around one player. That's not to diminish his value or importance. But we'll find a way to win it because that's who we are. I truly believe that's who we are."