CHICAGO -- Will Middlebrooks was in the starting lineup Saturday night in place of Kevin Youkilis as Bobby Valentine continues to juggle playing time for the two.
"It's very difficult to have a real plan for all this stuff,'' said Valentine. "I'm just going to try to keep (Middlebrooks) relatively fresh.
Youkilis was 0-for-4 Friday, and has just three hits since the start of the last homestand. But several of the outs he made Friday in the Red Sox' 3-0 loss to the Cubs were hard-hit, giving Valentine some hope that the results will soon improve.
"It seems like it's always so close,'' said Valentine. "Every game, there's an at-bat that looks like a (real) Youk at-bat. Again, the results don't match up.''
Meanwhile, Middlebrooks has been sitting some over the last two weeks, but Valentine said that can be useful in a young player's development.
"It's a checklist,'' said Valentine. "Because he's in the clubhouse, hearing guys like (Dustin) Pedroia saying, 'When I came up, I didn't do very well and I didn't get to play,' and this other guy is saying, 'I had to do this and wait for a good matchup before I got in there and then make the best of it.' It's part of a major league checklist. He's taking care of that.''
Valentine said the logjam is workable.
"Every other team is doing the same thing,'' he said. "Every other team has a position or two where it's the exact same thing. And you know what? They're doing fine.''
Asked if it were possible for both players to play below their capabilities because of the irregular playing time, Valentine said: "Maybe. Or they could both be more productive than you could ever imagine. Anything's possible, isn't it?''