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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Pregame notes: Youkilis still out

By Wallace Matthews

ST. PETERSBURG -- With left-hander David Price pitching tonight for the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees are sending out their right-handed heavy lineup.

Only problem is, that lineup is missing one of the team's most important right-handed bats: That of Kevin Youkilis, who once again is unable to play because of tightness in his lower back.

"He'’s still got it there a little bit," Joe Girardi said before the game. "My guess is he probably won’'t play until Thursday. If he comes in tomorrow and says he feels great, I might reevaluate.”"

In the meantime, Youkilis was not scheduled for batting practice or pregame drills, and Girardi said he would not be available to pinch hit. Youkilis removed himself from Saturday's game in Toronto after five innings complaining of tightness, and sat out on Sunday. He was in the original starting lineup Monday night against the Rays, but was scratched less than an hour before the game after experiencing a recurrence of the discomfort following batting practice.

Youkilis did not appear in the clubhouse after the Yankees' 5-1 loss Monday night nor before tonight's game. Girardi said Youkilis had been examined by team doctors, who determined his problem was muscular in origin and that no further tests were required. In his place, Jayson Nix will play third tonight and bat ninth.

"I'’d like to have him, there’'s no doubt about, but can’'t do much about it right now," Girardi said of Youkilis, who has a career batting average of .333 vs. Price (9-for-27). “"It'’s difficult when he’'s not in there. He’'s a big part of our lineup against left-handers, but we’'ve got to deal with it.”"

In other notes: Ben Francisco, tonight's DH, is 0-for-4 lifetime against Price. Vernon Wells, tonight's cleanup hitter, is 4-for-27 (.148) against the defending AL Cy Young winner. But interestingly, Lyle Overbay, a lefty, is 4-for-9 against him (.444) and Chris Stewart is 2-for-5 ... Price's lifetime record against the Yankees is 7-3 with a 3.77 ERA and 3-1 with a 3.27 at The Trop ... Phil Hughes, tonight's Yankees starter, is 4-4 with a 3.99 ERA vs. TB, and 1-3, 3.58 at The Trop ... Tonight is Joe Maddon Gnome Night at the Trop with all fans receiving a figurine of the Rays manager. Earlier in the day, Maddon, Rays owner Stu Sternberg and several players made their annual visit to the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, where for the third straight year the quirky Maddon allowed the audience to make out his lineup card for tonight's game. They must know something: Mat Joyce, who is hitting .455 with two home runs in 11 career at-bats against Hughes, is the Rays' No. 5 hitter tonight.