BOSTON — Things just got a lot more difficult for the Red Sox.
Injury-plagued and fading from the AL East race, Boston on Tuesday put 1B Kevin Youkilis on the 15-day disabled list with a thumb injury and acknowledged that his season could be over.
Youkilis, a two-time All-Star who was batting .307 with a .411 on-base percentage and a .564 slugging percentage in 102 games, tore a muscle in his right thumb during Monday night's 6-5 loss to the Indians. He lined out to end the first inning, grabbed his hand in pain and stayed in the game until the third.
"It's a very unusual injury, not a common occurrence for hitters to have this," general manager Theo Epstein said. "It's not clear how long it'll be or it's not clear if he'll need surgery. If he does need surgery, it can be fixed."
Epstein said the injured muscle is one that helps move the thumb. Asked if surgery would end Youkilis' season, Epstein said: "Realistically, yes."
To take Youkilis' place on the roster, the club activated Mike Lowell from the 15-day disabled list. He has been hampered by a strained right hip.
Boston has been hit by a string of injuries. Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury, 2008 AL MVP Dustin Pedroia, backup C Jason Varitek and CF Mike Cameron remain on the DL.
HOWARD TO DL: The Phillies' season-long wave of injuries has claimed All-Star 1B Ryan Howard for at least 15 days.
Howard went on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle. The Phillies said the sprain was moderate.
"We're hopeful he'll be back in two weeks," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "It may be longer than that. We're not sure."
GUILLEN RESPONDS: White Sox Ozzie Guillen said his comments about Latin American baseball players were taken out of context.
Over the weekend, Guillen said that Asian players are given privileges in the United States that Latinos are not afforded, including English translators. The White Sox team issued a statement saying Guillen was wrong.
Guillen said he didn't mean to criticize Major League Baseball or his team. "I was explaining to people how hard it is for them (Latin American players) to come here and play," he said.
RANGERS AUCTION: The Rangers go on the auction block in federal bankruptcy court today in one of the most contentious sales of an American professional sports team. The bidding is expected to pit Mavericks owner Mark Cuban against MLB's favored bidder, a group led by Rangers president Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg.
ANGELS: Nine-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter was moved from centerfield to right. Peter Bourjos was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to make his major-league debut in center.
A'S: RHP Ben Sheets said he will have season-ending surgery next week to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.
CARDINALS: Rookie 3B David Freese will miss the rest of the season with a tendon injury in his right leg that will require surgery.
INDIANS: C Carlos Santana went on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left knee a day after he was carried from the field on a stretcher. DH Travis Hafner went on the DL with right shoulder inflammation.
MARINERS: LHP Erik Bedard will have shoulder surgery this week. Bedard has not pitched this season while recovering from labrum surgery in his left shoulder last year.
NATIONALS: Rookie RHP Stephen Strasburg, on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness, threw a bullpen session and is scheduled to throw a simulated game Thursday.
REDS: SS Orlando Cabrera went on the 15-day disabled list with a strain in his left side.
TIGERS: 3B Brandon Inge, out since July 20 with a broken left hand, is set to begin a rehabilitation assignment at Class A West Michigan.