SEATTLE -- Boston slugger Manny Ramirez is expected to miss at least 4-to-6 weeks with a broken left index finger that could require surgery, Red Sox team physician Dr. Bill Morgan said Sunday.
Ramirez, leading the majors in batting at .372, broke the finger Saturday night when he smacked into Seattle catcher Dan Wilson's shin guard on a headfirst slide.
Ramirez traveled back to Boston on Sunday and was examined by Morgan, a hand specialist.
''The bone is going to require at least 4-to-6 weeks to heal,'' Morgan said. ''My gut feeling right now is that it may require surgery.''
Ramirez will undergo further tests Monday to determine whether surgery is necessary.
The Red Sox, who took a major league-leading 24-9 record into Sunday night's game at Seattle, are expected to put Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list.
''We weren't going to bring a player out here just for one day,'' manager Grady Little said. ''We don't play again until Tuesday so we can get it done before we get home.''
General manager Mike Port said it was likely that the Red Sox would put Ramirez on the disabled list and add another player soon.
''That would be my assumption, yes,'' Port said.
Port said the Red Sox currently have 37 players on their 40-man roster.
With Ramirez missing, Boston's starting lineup against the Mariners had Rickey Henderson leading off and playing left field and designated hitter Brian Daubach batting cleanup. Ramirez has batted fourth and has been used mainly in left field this season.
Henderson, 43, who has complained about his playing time this season, figures to be the one Red Sox player to gain the most from Ramirez's absence. Henderson is batting .244 in 15 games, with one home run and three RBIs. He went 0-for-4 Saturday night.
''I've got a good feeling about Rickey out there,'' Little said. ''We'll see what Rickey can do for a few days, whether it be a righty or a lefty. We're not etching anything in stone right now, but Rickey will play the next several games.''
''I think it would be kind of unfair to ask one player do what Manny Ramirez is able to do for a ballclub,'' Little said. ''For us to continue on this road of success, everyone is just going to have to chip in and do a little bit more. You can't ask one person to do what Manny Ramirez does.''
Little said he might use Nomar Garciaparra to bat fourth against left-handers.
''We're going to go with Daubach tonight against a right-hander and we'll see how it goes,'' he said.
With Ramirez missing from the lineup for most of the game Saturday night, the Red Sox lost to the Mariners 3-1.
Ramirez has nine home runs and 35 RBIs this season. He hit 41 homers with 125 RBIs last year in 142 games.
Ramirez singled in the second inning before getting injured. He hurt his hand while sliding into the plate while attempting to score from first base on Shea Hillenbrand's double. He was tagged out on a headfirst slide as Wilson blocked the plate.
Little said he doesn't like his players to slide headfirst into any base, particularly first and the plate.
''It's a dangerous play,'' he said. ''I'm just not sure if there's enough to be gained by doing that outside of exciting the crowd a little bit. I don't see where there's a whole lot to gain, but there's a whole lot to lose.''
''When you slide headfirst into a catcher, if that catcher comes down with a shin guard on your shoulder, it's going to end your whole career. It has ended people's careers,'' he said.
Third base coach Mike Cubbage, who sent Ramirez home Saturday night in the second inning, seconded Little's opinion on the dangers of headfirst slides.
''A lot of guys go headfirst nowadays,'' he said. ''I kind of watch it and cringe. That's how guys get hurt. You play the game with your fingers and hands, and I've seen a lot of hand and finger injuries because of it. There's probably 10 to 12 guys a year who get hurt because of it.''
The Red Sox came to Safeco Field with a nine-game winning streak, then lost twice to the Mariners.
Boston's major concerns entering the season were the health of their ace starting pitcher, Pedro Martinez, and their star shortstop, Garciaparra.
A minor rotator cuff tear limited Martinez to a 7-3 record and 18 starts last season, while Garciaparra played in only 21 games after undergoing wrist surgery in April 2001.
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