Thursday, August 6, 2009
OF-needy Red Sox start Youkilis in left
NEW YORK -- Rocco Baldelli went on the disabled list, Jason Bay was still hobbled and the Boston Red Sox needed someone to play left field at Yankee Stadium.
All yours, Kevin Youkilis.
"Best-case scenario, nothing gets hit to me," Youkilis said.
He got his wish. No fly balls sailed his way in Thursday night's 13-6 loss to New York. He spent much of the game retrieving hits all around him, and the only adventure came when he nearly barreled into center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury chasing a long drive.
A Gold Glove first baseman, the can-do Youkilis emerged as the best candidate for banged-up Boston.
Youkilis played left field for the first time since Sept. 26, 2006, against Tampa Bay at Fenway Park. He made 18 appearances in left that year, including 17 starts, and didn't commit an error. He also played two games in right last season.
As Red Sox manager Terry Francona told Youkilis: "If you make an error out there, send the people to me."
"It's appreciated, what he's doing," Francona said.
Just one problem -- the only outfielder's glove Youkilis owned was back at Fenway Park. He planned to borrow one from either Bay or Baldelli. A Rawlings glove representative spoke in the clubhouse with Youkilis, who said he didn't need a new mitt overnighted to him.
"I haven't broken it down scientifically how to play the outfield," Youkilis said. "Try to catch the fly balls."
The Red Sox got caught short-handed in the outfield going into the opener of the four-game series against New York after Baldelli fouled a ball off his left ankle during batting practice a night earlier at Tampa Bay.
"It's uncomfortable," Baldelli said. "I woke up this morning, it was really bothering me."
Baldelli is hitting .261 with five home runs and 17 RBIs. He was on the DL earlier this season because of a strained left hamstring.
Boston lost another player when shortstop Jed Lowrie left in the middle of the game because of an irritated left forearm. Francona said Lowrie, whose had a bad left wrist for more than a year, felt numbness in his fingers after a foul ball.
The Red Sox recalled outfielder Josh Reddick from Triple-A Pawtucket, and he was available right away. He hit .313 with a home run and two RBIs in four games for Boston before being optioned to Pawtucket on Wednesday.
Reddick took over for Youkilis in the seventh and wound up catching a fly to left. He grounded out in his only at-bat.
Bay re-injured his right hamstring while running out a grounder Wednesday in a 6-4 loss to the Rays. After the game, the Red Sox said they expected the All-Star left fielder would sit out at least the first two games of the Yankees series.
"Yes, there is a chance he could miss the whole weekend," Francona said. He added that he didn't think Bay's injury would require a trip to the DL, but said it could be a "tweener" kind of problem that would need five days or so to heal.
In the meantime, Youkilis took his spot in left field, with Ellsbury in center and J.D. Drew in right.
Known for his hard-nosed style, Youkilis also has played third base this season. He smiled -- sort of -- when he said he didn't expect to be out in left field very long.
"One-time thing," is how he said it.
"I don't go home and say, 'Oh, I can play all these positions.' To play one position would be great. We needed someone to play left field and I told them I'd do it," he said. "We're lucky Jacoby is healthy -- I'd play center."