|Dye cringes in pain from a fractured tibia after fouling a ball off his shin.
OAKLAND -- As soon as Jermaine Dye crumpled to the ground and stayed down in obvious pain before being carried off the field, his Oakland A's teammates knew it had to be bad.
No one knew that better than Johnny Damon, Dye's teammate for four years in Kansas City before they were reunited this summer.
"I figured it out when he was getting carried off," said Damon. "He's a tough guy. I've seen him bounce back from a busted-up collarbone and a busted-up knee, and he'd get up and be ready to keep going. I knew this was pretty severe."
They found out later it was even worse than they might have first imagined, as Dye -- the catalyst behind Oakland's amazing second-half surge -- suffered a fractured left tibia fouling a ball off his shin in the third inning of Sunday's Game 4 of the American League Division Series.
But the A's had to play on with heavy hearts the remainder of their 9-2 loss to the Yankees, which sent the series back to New York for a decisive Game 5 on Monday.
"To be honest with you, I shed a tear for him," Damon said. "We've been in the trenches together for a long time, and this is what we dreamed of. For this to happen all of a sudden like this, to see it end so prematurely, it's a shock.
"The biggest motivation to win now is to hopefully get him that ring."
To do that, the A's will have to win without a player who joined a good team and made it great after he was brought to Oakland from Kansas City in a three-way deal on July 25.
"It's a blow, for sure," Game 4 starter Cory Lidle said. "You don't just lose what he does on the field. You lose what he means to the team in other ways. He's been kind of the symbol of our turnaround."
Dye had 13 homers and 59 RBIs in 61 regular-season games with the A's, who went 48-14 after he was acquired.
Dye added an important element to the offense -- a powerful bat in the cleanup spot that provided production as well as protection for Jason Giambi. He added an important element to the defense, as well -- a Gold Glove right fielder who combined with Damon and left fielder Terrence Long to give the A's as solid an outfield in the majors.
"He's been a big part of our lineup," Giambi said. "He was that right-handed bat hitting behind me, so he's definitely going to be missed. He was a big part of us getting here. But we're not going to forget about him, and hopefully some of the guys will pick up the slack."
Dye was 3-for-12 with a pair of doubles in the ALDS heading into his third-inning at-bat against Orlando Hernandez, who was feeding him inside heat, which Dye already had fouled off once. On a 1-1 pitch, Dye swung hard and got a good piece of the ball, fouling it directly off his shin, below his left knee.
Dye immediately hit the ground and rolled over in pain as A's assistant trainer Steve Sayles came to his aid. Television replays showed the leg buckle with the force of the foul ball, and Dye clearly could not put weight on the leg -- he was carried off the field by teammates and taken to a hospital for X-rays, which revealed the damage of the injury.
His leg won't be placed in a cast until Monday, once swelling subsides, according to A's trainer Larry Davis.
"You see guys foul them off their legs all the time, but I've only seen one or two break things," Davis said. "We shouldn't be surprised when somebody does it. That's a hard object going very fast hitting exposed bone."
Once the X-rays were taken, the diagnosis was clear: fractured tibia.
"I saw the X-ray," A's General Manager Billy Beane said. "I could have read the X-ray."
The severity of the injury definitely hit the team hard.
Said shorstop Miguel Tejada, who later fouled a ball off his leg to give A's teammates and fans a scare: "We're not worried about that game we lost today. We're worried about Jermaine Dye. But we have 25 other guys in here who can do the job [Monday]."
The A's will have to figure out how to fill the hole left in their lineup by Dye's injury as they take on Roger Clemens in Game 5 Monday.
Ron Gant, who homered off lefty Andy Pettitte in Game 2, came in for Dye, finished off a strikeout charged to Dye, and went 0-for-2 himself. Gant moved out to left field as Terrence Long moved to right.
Long, who boasts a strong arm and is fleet of foot, likely will stay in right field, but the cleanup spot might go to Eric Chavez.
For Damon, the team's leadoff hitter, moving on in the postseason takes on a new meaning. But as Damon and the rest of the A's know, they have to move on without Dye or not move on at all.
"Jermaine and I believe we were the missing links to this ballclub," Damon said. "With us, this is definitely a better ballclub. With him out, it's going to be a tough task, but I feel confident in what we can do.
"Guys are really going to have to step up [Monday] and for the rest of the playoffs. We feel like we have a very good team, but we're missing one of the best players in the league right now."
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com.