BOSTON -- Third baseman Kevin Youkilis, on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 29 with a low back strain, took a step forward in his rehab today by playing catch in the outfield before the game.
Talking to him yesterday it seemed like he could swing but theyre delaying it, said manager Bobby Valentine.
Youkilis is eligible to come off the DL Monday, but is unlikely to do so.
Shortstop Mike Aviles and outfielder Marlon Byrd are not in the starting lineup against the Indians tonight.
A well-deserved day off for Mike Aviles, Valentine said. I was going to wait until Sunday, which is the halfway point in this 20-day stretch but I chose not to.
Byrds been playing an awful lot and Id like to see what this alignment looks like now that we have another left-handed hitter here Daniel Nava, who is a switch-hitter.
Nava is batting sixth, playing left field. Ryan Sweeney is in center for the first time this season, with Cody Ross in right.
Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to make his fourth rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Pawtucket. Valentine said Matsuzaka, who is expected to throw about 90 pitches, is very close to being ready to return. His 30-day rehab is up on May 22.
I would say hes very close, Valentine said. Hes done everything except for stringing the innings together. Hes working on all his pitches. Hes happy with his pitches. Hes happy with his velocity, his strength, his ability to field, pitch out of the stretch, windup. If theres a checklist hes checked off a lot of those things. Now its just stringing innings together.
As they did Thursday against Josh Beckett, the Indians have an all left-handed lineup, including switch-hitters Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana, against Clay Buchholz.
However, both right-handed and left-handed hitters are putting up some hefty numbers against Buchholz this season. Righties are batting .345, lefties .341. Lefties have a .438 on-base percentage, righties .413. But righties are slugging 100 points more, .673 to .573.