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Lugo: 'I'm worried'; Francona fears torn meniscus

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  March 14, 2009 11:15 AM

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By Adam Kilgore and Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Julio Lugo has not received the results from the MRI on his right knee, but this morning he spoke in a hushed tone as he explained how his knee was first hurt and expressed his level concern about the injury, which forced him from last night's game after half an inning. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that the fear is Lugo may have a meniscus tear.

Results of the MRI are being looked at in Boston by Dr. Bill Palmer at Mass. General, and the team should know something definitive later today.

"I'm worried," Lugo said. "Every time you have something hurt, you're worried because I know I'm the type, when something bothers me, when I say something, I'm in pain. Otherwise I'm not going to complain to pain. If you see me coming out, I'm hurting."

Francona said upon arrival here this morning that he spoke to team physician Dr. Thomas Gill and general manager Theo Epstein. He said that Gill studied the MRI last night and this morning "and I'm not sure he saw something that looked like a tear, but with the experience he has when he puts his hands on the knee there is something in there. Rather than rush into something, we'll send it up to Bill, that's his speciality, and we'll go from there."

As for how Lugo hurt the knee, Francona said, "That's a little murkier. He (Lugo) said it's been bothering him for 10 days to two weeks, but the last couple of days it started grabbing at him. I said something to him before the game 'Hey, how is your knee, OK?' He sad 'Yeah, a little sore.' Then he got out there in the first inning and he made a gesture like 'I gottta come out.'

Lugo felt such sharp pain last night that he tried calling to the bench and asked to be taken out in the middle of the top of the first, before the inning ended suddenly with a double play. "I couldn't move," Lugo said. Once he came into the dugout, Lugo immediately was taken for the MRI.

"It's been pain," Lugo said. "It's been pain, no doubt about that. Yesterday, it just gave up on me ... and I just couldn't move. I just couldn't run."

The injury, Lugo said, is not related to his quadriceps injury whatsoever; it's a different leg. Lugo can walk without pain, but running makes sharp pain shoot through his knee.

Lugo had been off to sterling start this spring, batting .450 with two doubles without making an error at shortstop. The start boded well for his competition with Jed Lowrie which for the moment is in question.

"I'm not worried about that," Lugo said. "I'm worried about myself right now. If I can play, then I'm the shortstop. If I'm healthy, it's different. I'm not worried about that."

The injury could be devastating to Lugo, who had drawn priase for his effort last season trying to come back from the left quadriceps injury. Lugo was focused on proving his first difficult two years in Boston were not representative of his true ability, and that he could be the player the Red Sox signed. Pending the results of the MRI, that could be in jeopardy.

"It is disappointing," Lugo said. "But at the same time, things happen for a reason. God works his magic. That's the only way i see it. Something happens, you can't explain why it happens, but it happens. I've been blessed in my life, all the good things that I got."

The Lugo injury could open the door for Lowrie to take over as the starting shortstop. Lowrie is starting at shortstop today vs. the Orioles. Depending on the severity of the injury, it could also open the door for impressive Nick Green to make the team as a utility man.

"I'm just going to stay the same," Lowrie said. "I never want to see anyone get hurt whether I'm in competition with him or not."

Francona is certainly relieved he has Lowrie to fall back on, but he said "making decisions is one thing. You don't want to ever see anyone get hurt. That's not what we're looking for. We go slow (in spring training) because we don't want to lose people. So we'll hope for the best. We'll see. That's as clear as I can be on it."

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