Sox balancing three-way shuffle

Sox balancing three-way shuffle
June 1, 2012, 11:25 pm
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TORONTO Since Kevin Youkilis returned from the disabled list on May 22, manager Bobby Valentine has been rotating Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, and Will Middlebrooks among first base, third base, and right field. And, for the most part, doing so successfully.

Since Youkilis returned on May 22 from missing 22 games on the disabled list with a low back strain, the Sox have gone 5-4.

Asked if having all three in the lineup gives the Sox their best offensive alignment, Valentine responded:

Probably. Maybe. Maybe.

Youkilis is not in the starting lineup for Friday nights series opener with the Jays. Gonzalez is playing first base, batting third. Middlebrooks is playing third, batting sixth.

Since his return Youkilis has split time at first base and third base, batting .313, slugging .531, with two home runs, including one in his first game back.

Gonzalez has made six starts in right field and three at first base, splitting time between the two positions in three games. In that span, he is batting .250 (9-for-36) with a home run, three doubles, four runs scored, five RBI, and seven strikeouts.

In six games during that span Middlebrooks has hit .381 (8-for-21) with a home run, a double, a run scored, five RBI, a walk, and five strikeouts.

Asked if he sees the rotation of the three as a long-term possibility, Valentine said hed like to wait until after Mondays scheduled off day to assess the situation.

I think after the off day it would be a good time to collect everyones thoughts on it, or maybe even within the next couple of days, Valentine said. It just depends on how it affects the guys physically and mentally.

Valentine said he has not sensed any aversion from Gonzalez, who has started eight of the last 13 games in right field, to playing right. Before this season, he had played just three games over his career in the outfield, all in right.

I dont sense that aversion, Valentine said. No, theres been no indication of that.