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But as the regular season resumes Thursday night at Fenway Park, baseball author and analyst Glenn Stout says the Sox cannot count on the triage squad much longer.
"They've actually done a terrific job to stay in the race this long," Stout said, "but I think, as we saw in the last week, they're starting to run on fumes a little bit, so they really needed the break and now they need to start getting people back healthy."
Stout sees signs of returning health, led by starting pitcher Josh Beckett's rehab outing in the minors and second baseman Dustin Pedroia indicating that his injured foot is not going to require surgery. Stout says this positive news — with the Red Sox currently residing in third place in the American League East — couldn't come at a better time.
"After (the current) four-game series with Texas, they've got a 10-game western road trip," Stout said, "and those are the kind of trips that have traditionally made or broken the Red Sox."
Holding Boston's patchwork lineup together has been designated hitter David Ortiz, who punctuated his batting resurgence by winning the Home Run Derby on Tuesday. Though Stout admits he had written off Big Papi before the season, he now says the offense hinges on how the DH swings the bat.
"(He has) been the run-producer," Stout said. "They need him to keep going. They need him to be a sustaining presence the rest of the way. If he has another month-fade-out along the way, particularly before they get everyone back, that doesn't bode well for the Red Sox. So he's a very, very important part of their lineup right now."
Stout also weighed in on the passing of longtime New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry said Steinbrenner forever changed baseball; Stout says "the Boss" changed the Sox quite dramatically.
"When Steinbrenner took over the Yankees in 1973, there really was no rivalry with the Red Sox," Stout said. "But Steinbrenner, by building back the Yankees, rekindled the rivalry, and that helped both teams immeasurably. I don't think the Red Sox would be in the position they are now as one of the most popular teams in baseball were they not to have the rivalry with the Yankees."
The Red Sox are planning a moment of silence for Steinbrenner prior to Thursday's game.
This program aired on July 15, 2010.
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