Julio Lugo left Friday's exhibition game in the first inning with soreness in his right knee. Today, Lugo was sent back to get an MRI on that knee, but the Red Sox don't know the extent of the damage. The Boston Globe reported Lugo as saying that he was "worried" about his knee. Terry Francona did say that Jed Lowrie would get the bulk of the remaining opportunities at short-stop.
Lugo could be worried because he sees his job slipping away because if the only thing he could do was hit well during spring training to try to keep his job. Now that he is on the shelf, it is looking more and more like Lowrie will be the everyday short-stop, and that Lugo will be moved sometime during the season. It is unfortunate for the Red Sox that Lugo got hurt because Lowrie likely already had the job, and they were pleased with Lugo's impressive spring training performance thus far because that improves his trade value.
No matter what Lugo hit in spring training, which was .450 before the injury, the Sox would have still been responsible for paying some of Lugo's contract, and he is owed $18 million over the next two season, if they were able to trade him. But, the better Lugo does in his opportunites, the less the Sox would be left responsible for.
Lugo would have marginal value without his pricey contract. There are enough teams who would be interested in a short-stop if the Sox paid a big chunk of that $18 million. Lugo has only played short-stop with Boston, and a few emergency innings in the outfield, but in the season before he came to Boston, Lugo played 16 games at third base, 29 at second, and three more in the outfield. He can play other positions, and there are teams that could use someone like him (the Yankees are in the market for a third basemen I think?).
Unfortunatetly, the Red Sox will not move Lugo until the trading deadline, unless a major buyer becomes more immediately available. Lugo has been emphatic about foreshadowing his disappointment if the job is given to Lowrie. If Lugo's situation seems to becoming a problem, it will quickly spiral. Unlike when Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez have raised issues about contracts and other things in recent years, they are all Hall-of-Fame caliber players and some people at least were able to stand up for them because of their on-field performance. But, virtually no one is in Lugo's corner from the team's, fans' or media's perspective. If Lugo starts to complain, and is still only hitting .220 and has as many errors as RBIs, it would quickly become a bad situation (dare I say, cancerous?).
The injury to Lugo buys the Sox some time and more excuses to play Lowrie, but may hurt their chances to move Lugo in a timely fashion.