According to Ian Browne of, Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie is traveling to California on Tuesday to receive a second opinion on his ailing right shoulder from Dr. Lewis Yocum.  Though the injury is being classified as a strained right left shoulder, Terry Francona explained the team’s motivation for allowing Lowrie to seek a second opinion.

“He’ll have the pictures and he’ll see him in person, which I think we feel like, there’s no reason for him not to go. He’s not playing anyway. Let’s have him examined in person, and that will be good.”

While I agree with the sentiment of Francona’s statement, it understates the potential severity of Lowrie’s injury.  In all honesty, players rarely seek second opinions on relatively minor injuries that have little to no chance of requiring surgery.  Furthermore, they rarely see the holy trinity of sports surgeons (Yocum, Dr. James Andrews, and Dr. Frank Jobe) unless there’s a legitimate structural concern.  SI’s injury expert Will Carroll‘s (via Sean McAdam of latest report only intensifies this belief; he said surgery was “more a likelihood than a possibility.”  In other words, it could be a while before we see Lowrie back on the field.

So what does this mean for the Red Sox?  For now, not a whole lot.  Marco Scutaro will reassume his role as the starting shortstop, and Drew Sutton will likely remain as his back-up and utility infielder.  Since returning from the disabled list on June 7th, Scutaro’s hit very well, producing a .364/.417/.523 line in 11 games.  Clearly, he won’t be able to keep up that pace, but it gives hope he’s adjusted from whatever was causing him to perform so poorly earlier in the season.

While the Red Sox could look to deal for a shortstop somewhere around the July 31st trading deadline, that seems unlikely.  With the Phillies being serious World Series contenders, they’re unlikely to trade 2007 MVP Jimmy Rollins.  Though the Mets appear to be in “selling” mode, the cost for three time All-Star Jose Reyes is likely to be prohibitive; especially in light of the treasure trove of prospects the Red Sox dealt to San Diego in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez.  Outside of those two players, the oft-injured Rafael Furcal; the OBP-challenged Alex Gonzalez; the everything challenged Yuniesky Betancourt are the best options available,* and I’m not convinced any of them are upgrades over Scutaro.  Unless a cheap, viable dark horse candidate emerges, the Red Sox will likely remain with the Scutaro/Lowrie combo for the remainder of 2011.

* I purposely left J.J. Hardy off of that list because he’s unlikely to be traded to a division rival without the Red Sox paying a huge premium.  Also, there are rumors flying about that the Orioles are looking into signing him to a long-term extension.