Youkilis out of lineup after being hit in rib cage

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Youkilis out of lineup after being hit in rib cage

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.

First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

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First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

* Rick Porcello followed form.

Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.

So it was Monday night against the Rays.

Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.

Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.

But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.

 

* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.

Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).

That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.

But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.

It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.

 

* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.

The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.

Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.

But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.

In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.

In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.

 

After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

BOSTON - For a bullpen that could use all the help it can get right now, there's the prospect that Koji Uehara could rejoin the Red Sox on Labor Day.

Uehara, who's been out since July 20 with a strained pectoral muscle, threw a bullpen Monday at Fenway that impressed John Farrell.

"He came out of today's work session in good fashion,'' said Farrell. "It was 25 pitches to hitters with good intensity to both his fastball and split. It's been impressive to see how he's handled the volume, and now, three times on the mound, the intensity to his bullpens and BP.''

Next up for Uehara will be a bullpen session Wednesday morning, followed by a live batting practice session Saturday in Oakland.

Since both Pawtucket's and Portland's seasons are over on Labor Day, Uehara won't have the option of going on a rehab assignment to face hitters before being activated.

But the Sox believe that he can build arm strength through these side sessions and BP sessions -- enough so that he could return to the active roster soon.

"We'll re-assess where is after Sunday,'' said Farrell, "and I wouldn't rule out activation [after that]. What we've done with Koji is just review how he feels after each session and we'll take it from there.''

Uehara, 41, is 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA, and while he's had a propensity for giving up homers (eight in just 36 innings), he had been throwing better before being injured.

And given the performance of the bullpen in general and the recent poor showings from Matt Barnes, the Sox would welcome Uehara back as soon as he's ready.

"The one thing that Koji has proven to us,'' noted Farrell, "is that, even with limited spring training work [in the past], he's been a very effective pitcher for us and obviously, he has a chance to make a very positive impact once he does return.''

Uehara's progress since late July has been a pleasant surprise for the Sox, who feared at the time of the injury that he might be done for the season.     

"To his credit,'' said Farrell, "he's worked his tail off and advanced fairly rapidly and he's withstanding the intensity that he's put into [the work]. A healthy Koji certainly adds to our bullpen.