Youkilis out of lineup after being hit in rib cage

Youkilis out of lineup after being hit in rib cage
June 13, 2012, 10:12 pm
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MIAMI -- Kevin Youkilis is out of the lineup Wednesday as the Red Sox wrap up their three-game series against the Marlins. Youkilis was hit in the rib cage in the eighth inning and came out of the game soon after as the Red Sox made some defensive substitutions.

Manager Bobby Valentine said the Sox' infielder was limited after being hit.

"He's pretty tied up,'' said Valentine. "He's pretty rotationally restricted.''

The Miami Marlins team physicians were planning on examining Youkilis before gametime, with X-rays possible.

"It was solid whack,'' said Valentine of being struck.

Soreness aside, Youkilis has been struggling mightily at the plate over the last 10 days. Since the start of the team's last homestand, Youkilis is just 3-for-26 (.115) over his previous eight games, dropping his average for the season down to .219.

Further complicating matters for Youkilis is his name being mentioned prominently in trade talk. Valentine spoke with Youkilis Tuesday about handling the distractions.

"Every season, for at least three months of the season, trade rumors swirl,'' said Valentine. "If you happen to be one of the guys being talked about, it's no fun. It's just no fun. You're answering unanswerable questions. You can't answer the question."

Valentine was asked whether he thinks the speculation is affecting Youkilis.

"I can't tell,'' Valentine said. "He's a tough guy. But he'd be inhuman if it didn't affect him, because it's his life, right? Someone on TV, or someone writes about it . . . his wife hears about it and wonders, 'Where are we going to be living?' Again, he's human. It's hard to think it doesn't affect him.''

With Youkilis sidelined, Will Middlebrooks may see his playing time increase. Middlebrooks is part of a logjam, with Youkilis, David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez, at first basethird baseDH as Valentine tries to find the right combination.

The rookie third baseman is, for the first time in his pro career, dealing with infrequent playing time.

"I think his play's been okay,'' said Valentine. "He's faced some tough pitchers, in and out of the lineup. It seems like he's staying very competitive. That changuep that struck him out Tuesday night (by Mark Buehrle) strikes a lot of people out, playing every day or not.

"You have to be strong-minded when you're not playing every day. He's watching the game, he's into the game. If I saw any elevated frustration level or any total decline in performance, I think we'd have to make another decision. It doesn't seem like we're there.''

Valentine warned Middlebrooks at the outset to "fasten his seatbelt."

" 'This is life in the big leagues,' " Valentine said he told the rookie. " 'You're in the fast lane. You're doing great. I believe in you.' . . all that good stuff. But those are just words. Until you experience it, it means nothing.''

Middlebrooks is hitting .300 with 6 homers and 22 RBI, with a .339 OBP and a .508 slugging percentage.

"You have to like what you see,'' said Valentine of Middlebrooks' performance.