Though he is now eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list, Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis continues to work his way back from the lower back strain that sidelined him late in April and rendered him unable to engage in baseball activities until the past couple of days. That being the case, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said there was no need to make a decision about what will happen with playing time for both Youkilis and rookie Will Middlebrooks when the veteran is ready to be activated.
"I think that’s a little premature," said Valentine. We’ll do exactly what’s right. Those things, they usually play themselves out. No need to really make a decision until it’s time to make a decision."
In 18 games this year, Youkilis is hitting .219 with a .292 OBP, .344 slugging mark, .635 OPS, two homers and four extra-base hits. In 10 games since being called up from Pawtucket, Middlebrooks is hitting .310/.356/.714/1.070 with four homers and nine extra-base hits.
Valentine was asked whether it would be constructive to have a young player such as Middlebrooks serve in a part-time role at this stage of his development.
"Sitting on the bench is not the place for very many players, especially good young talented players. What would be the purpose of having someone sit the bench unless there was a useful purpose not being in the starting role but also being able to contribute to the team’s wins?" said Valentine. "Now is there a place for [Middlebrooks] to do that? I’m not sure."
As for Youkilis, Valentine said that the veteran is showing improvement as he progresses in his baseball activities, though he was not able to say when he will be ready to be activated from the DL.
"He looked pretty good taking groundballs today. I wouldn’t think he’s very far away. He took 10 swings on a soft toss and about 30 dry swings. He’s going to hit some balls today. He looked really good moving around. I mean, he looked really good moving around," said Valentine. "I have no idea [when he'll be activated. Whenever the medical and Kevin say he’s ready. All I’m saying is my eyes saw him take some groundballs, he looked good throwing, fielding."
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