The Eastern Conference playoff race, seemingly altered by the moves -- and non-moves (hello there, Celtics) -- of some of the contenders, just took another twist.
The Raptors, bolstered by the acquisition of Serge Ibaka and appearing poised to make a run toward the top of the standings after a come-from-behind victory over the Celtics on Friday, were hit with a body blow Monday when it was announced All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry needs surgery on his right wrist and may miss the remainder of the regular season.
ESPN reports Lowry is expected to be sidelined from four to eight weeks. Toronto hopes to have him back for the playoffs.
The Raptors are currently in fourth place in the conference at 35-24, trailing Cleveland (40-17), Boston (38-21) and Washington (34-23). Without Lowry, and facing a rough, six-of-their-next-seven-games-on-the-road stretch, Toronto may stop focusing on catching the Wizards and/or Celtics and focus on holding off Atlanta (32-26) in order to hold onto home-court in the first round.
Lowry, 30, who missed the last two games because of the injury, is averaging a career-best 22.8 points per game. He also is averaging 6.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds.
Another year, another injury concern for Hanley Ramirez. This time, though, it's a bit more complicated.
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell told the media Monday that Ramirez hadn't played any first base during spring training yet due to discomfort in his right throwing shoulder.
“Well, we’re working through ramping up his throwing program,” Farrell said, via WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. “That has taken a little bit more time than anticipated coming in so we’ve got to kind of take that day to day how much we can increase the intensity with the throwing. He’s just working through some soreness with the throwing.”
As Bradford points out, Ramirez and the Red Sox went through the same process last year. Where it differs this time around is Ramirez's scheduled participation in the World Baseball Classic: He's expected to report to Team Domincan Republic on Friday, which means the Red Sox won't be monitoring his every move on the field (though the two training staffs will be communicating daily, also per Bradford).
Ramirez isn't the only first baseman on the roster, with the Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana there as well. So will Ramirez be jumping into game action anytime soon?
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. They haven’t told me anything,” Ramirez told WEEI.com “I’m just going to go there and see.”