KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Nick Green is trying hard not to go stir crazy, but he's in a holding pattern, hoping the swelling goes down in the bulging disc in his back, unable to do much until it does.
Since last Sunday, Green has been back in Boston, getting treatment on his legs and his back, with his outlook unclear. He doesn't know why the injury happened -- at first they thought it was his time spent hitting against an automated machine called "Iron Mike," -- and he's not in pain, but because the disc is pinching on a nerve, it's causing weakness in his right leg. If he can't start performing baseball activities by next week, he doesn't think he'll have a shot at the first-round postseason roster.
"I'm getting bored out of my mind here," Green said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "I'm not going to just give up on the whole postseason. If I'm healthy there's things we can do to try and get me ready to be active. I would hope it wouldn't just be over if I can't get ready by the end of the season."
Green, who's hitting .236 with 35 RBI this season, had been suffering from what he called a "dead leg." He couldn't put pressure on his right leg; simple movements would force it to collapse. He wasn't feeling any pain, rather weakness. He had an MRI on Monday in Boston, which finally identified the bulging disc. The past week he's been coming to Fenway daily to work with Scott Waugh, the Bruins' rehab coordinator and Red Sox physical therapist.
Their plan has been to do leg exercises to keep the muscle from atrophying, so when the swelling in Green's back goes down, he hasn't lost the strength in his leg. Each day he works out for about an hour, starting on an elliptical machine for cardio, then moving on to a traction machine, which Green says realigns his vertebrae. He does step ups, leg extensions and stretches.
"I can only do so much," Green said. "My leg ends up getting fatigued too. Yesterday I was doing [weighted stretches], I started at 30 pounds. I ended up at 10. It's hard for me to maintain the strength for a long period of time."
He said the trainers are unsure how long it will take the swelling to go down. Green, who has just six at-bats in September and whose last appearance was a bases-loaded walk against Anaheim on Sept. 16, hasn't been given any injections so far, hoping the swelling will naturally shrink. In order to determine if he's getting better, Green tries to do one-legged squats without falling over. He last did them two days ago, and fell over each time.
"It's kind of like [Tim] Wakefield's thing but Wakefield is in pain," Green said. "I'm not in pain, so it's a little different."
Manager Terry Francona said yesterday that there is a difference between Green's injury and Wakefield's. Wakefield has a floating piece in his back that will have to be removed with surgery. Green said right now he doesn't think his injury will need surgery, just time to heal.
To kill time this week, Green hung out at Fenway with the crew of "The Town," a film being shot at the ballpark starring Ben Affleck. The plot involves money that is stolen at Fenway, and an attempted escape, so they have been blowing up parts of the set this week.
"I guess they're driving an ambulance through the doors of Fenway today so I'm going to go check it out," Green said.
He'll stay in Boston this weekend while the team plays the Yankees, and hope that by Monday he is healthy and can resume baseball activities at some point next week. If not, then Green could be looking at the end of his season.
"I think they would feel more comfortable and I would feel more comfortable if I could actually get some at-bats," Green said. "If I can't get some at-bats by the last three games of the season then it's probably not going to happen."
Amy K. Nelson
Amy K. Nelson is an award-winning journalist who covers major league baseball for ESPN.com and is part of the site's Enterprise team. Follow her on Twitter.