Boston's All-Star contingent enjoys festivities
Healthy, injured players soaking up fun of Midsummer Classic
ANAHEIM -- Dustin Pedroia's crutches sat on the ground next to him, serving as a reminder of his spectator-only status at this year's All-Star Game. Victor Martinez held court with a bandaged splint still covering the fractured tip of his left thumb.
Clay Buchholz sat down with a now fairly healthy left hamstring, but still had not recovered enough to pitch. Third baseman Adrian Beltre took batting practice during Monday's workout and was confident he will be a playing participant in his first All-Star appearance, but knew there were no guarantees after tweaking his left hamstring on Sunday.
It was all so typical of the 2010 Red Sox, who might as well play the theme song from the classic sitcom "M*A*S*H" after the nightly national anthem.
"I think everybody should be walking and seeing where they're stepping, because there's been something kind of freaky here," said Beltre. "We need to get those guys back on the field."
They are bruised and bandaged, but not broken. And there are even two Red Sox All-Stars -- David Ortiz and Jon Lester -- who are certain to be available for action on Tuesday. And that's why Pedroia knew that it was a no-brainer to take the cross-country flight to Anaheim, even though nobody would have criticized him if he had propped his fractured left foot on the couch back in Boston for the All-Star break.
"That's the big thing. Me and Vic talked when we found out we made the team," said Pedroia. "He said, 'Hey, are you going to go?' I said, 'What are you going to do?' He said, 'We have to go. Support our teammates and our other guys that were there.' You've got to represent your team. It's a special honor and we're all excited about it."
Ortiz, in particular, clearly seemed to enjoy being back on the big stage after his string of five consecutive All-Star appearances was snapped last year.
Papi had enough bling on to blind the room, from earrings to his watch to his bracelet, and even on the side of his multicolored sunglasses. His anemic April is now as far gone as some of the home runs he has clubbed the past few weeks.
"The All-Star Game is something that we look forward to be in, and to come in here, put on a good show and make sure the fans and the family have a good time," Ortiz said. "You know, it's just a small group that gets to come. You want to put it together so you can be here."
For Lester, this is his first All-Star apperance. He was on the short list of starting candidates considered by American League manager Joe Girardi, but that nod went to another AL East southpaw -- Tampa Bay's David Price.
"Like I said, it would have been nice [to start]," said Lester. "I would have really enjoyed it. It would have been a great honor, but I'm not disappointed. As long as I get to pitch, I don't care."
It is a near certainty that Lester will get at least an inning from Girardi. He will be on three days' rest, having last pitched for the Red Sox on Friday night in Toronto.
All Lester needs to do is look at Pedroia, Martinez or Buchholz to know how fortunate he is just to be able to play in the game.
"I'm pretty excited," Lester said. "Like I said, it's going to be fun to go there today and kind of hang out. It's already been fun kind of meeting some different guys and hanging out here. I'm pretty excited about tomorrow."
For the Red Sox, the All-Star festivities are a nice change of pace from the grind they've had of late, with seemingly a different player going down with an injury each day. But part of what is making the experience more enjoyable to the six Boston stars is that despite all the adversity, they remain in the heart of contention, five games back in the AL East and three off the pace in the AL Wild Card standings.
"It's unbelievable," said Buchholz. "There's been such an up-and-down thing for this team this year and still being able to win the games nobody thought we'd be able to win with the guys that are out there. The group of guys that we have, they're awesome players."
Through all the challenges of playing short-handed, Boston has developed a clear spirit of late. A great deal of that tone has been set by the walking wounded, who have remained on the bench cheering their teammates on. During recent Red Sox batting practices, Pedroia has sat just beyond the batting cage in a folding chair. Martinez and captain Jason Varitek (right foot) have been similarly involved during their DL stints.
"Guys have done a great job, and hopefully we can get everybody back and everybody going," said Pedroia. "It's been fun so far. I know we've had a ton of injuries, but guys have battled and we're a pretty special team. We're close together and hopefully it goes well for us.
"Hopefully we won't take up all the trainers' time [in the AL clubhouse]. We'll have fun. It's been a crazy year. We've had a lot of freak accidents -- the guys with the ribs, me and 'Tek's feet. It's weird things. We'll try to find a way to overcome it."
Over the next couple of days, Boston's All-Star contingent can take a brief break from the challenges that await in the second half and soak in their place among the best players in the game.
"This is awesome," Buchholz said. "It's something that I've said a couple of times already, you might never be able to do it again. I'm going to have fun while I'm here."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.