Friday: Middlebrooks at third; Youkilis sits

755388.jpg

Friday: Middlebrooks at third; Youkilis sits

BOSTON After Will Middlebrooks went 3-for-4 with a two-run, game-tying home run, and four RBI, raising his average to .316, manager Bobby Valentine was asked if a player can earn more playing time with his performance.

I think thats a fact of the game that we play, Valentine said.

It is a fact of his lineup for Fridays game. Middlebrooks is starting at third base, batting sixth, with Kevin Youkilis, who is batting just .225, on the bench.

Today Im riding the hot hand, Valentine said. Tomorrow might not be the case. I always reserve the right to change my mind.

Valentine said he discussed the situation with Youkilis, and believed Youkilis understood his decision.

He doesnt necessarily totally agree with it and wake up in the morning and hope that thats the case but I think the professional person that Kevin is understands it, Valentine said.

With interleague play coming to an end and with Sox outfielders getting back to health, Valentine was asked if he foresees Adrian Gonzalez continuing to play in right field.

Well take it day by day but if I had my druthers hed stay at first, Valentine said. The reason he didnt, I think, was because of necessity.

That arrangement would further limit playing time for Youkilis, whose name has swirled in trade rumors.

White Sox rally for 5-4 win, denying Price first victory of 2017

white-sox-melky-cabrera-052917.jpg

White Sox rally for 5-4 win, denying Price first victory of 2017

CHICAGO -- Red Sox lefty David Price had an uneven season debut while Melky Cabrera homered and drove in four runs, helping the Chicago White Sox rally past Boston 5-4 on Monday.

Price, who missed the first part of the year with a left elbow strain, threw 88 pitches in five innings. The former AL Cy Young Award winner gave up two hits, including Cabrera's three-run homer, walked two and hit two batters. He also struck out four.

Price was in line for the win before Kevan Smith hit an RBI double off Matt Barnes (3-2) in the seventh, tying it at 4-4. Cabrera had an RBI single with two outs.

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia injured his wrist in the first inning and exited in the second. He was hurt trying to beat out a hit when first baseman Jose Abreu slid into the bag and Pedroia fell over him.

Juan Minaya (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning and David Robertson closed for his eighth save in nine chances.

Price turns in encouraging effort in first 2017 start

red-sox-david-price-44-052917.jpg

Price turns in encouraging effort in first 2017 start

CHICAGO — It’s a start, literally and figuratively.

David Price showed some great velocity in his 2017 Red Sox debut Monday afternoon, hitting 97 mph -- heat he didn’t have last year. At times, the pitcher the Sox badly need to return to form flashed high-level effectiveness as well.

MORE RED SOX-WHITE SOX

What everyone expected would be off in Price's first start back, his command, was indeed shaky, considering he allowed more runs (three) than hits (two). But he wasn’t expected to be in tip-top form, and he did a decent job overall.

Price's five-inning, three-run performance against the White Sox came almost exactly three months after he first felt elbow soreness during spring training. The lefty exited with the Red Sox ahead 4-3, though he lost the chance at his first 2017 victory when Chicago scored twice off Matt Barnes in the seventh and pulled out a 5-4 victory.

All three runs off Price scored on a Melky Cabrera homer in the third inning, which put the White Sox ahead 3-1 at the time. Price walked only two batters on the day, but they happened to be the two hitters in front of Cabrera.

The walk started with the No. 9 hitter, Adam Engel. Tim Anderson, who had drawn just four walks in 181 plate appearances entering the day, got a free pass as well.

But besides the Cabrera homer on a first-pitch fastball that was middle-in, the only other hit Price allowed was a shallow bloop single to center field.

Price finished with four strikeouts, including the first batter he faced on the day, Anderson.

His command issues were nonetheless clear. Price hit two batters to begin his final frame, setting up a fine play for Deven Marrero to record a force out at second before Xander Bogaerts started a inning-ending double play with a fantastic dive, bailing Price out of the first-and-third jam with one out.

With 88 pitches and 58 strikes, Price was more efficient than he was in two rehab outings at Triple-A Pawtucket, and he didn’t get rocked. But he also wasn’t as efficient as the Red Sox will need him to be.

Price was pitching in a calm, pleasant environment (clear skies, temperatures in the 70s, low humidity) that might actually have been more comfortable than the colder clime Price faced in Pawtucket -- where both the fans and temperatures were chilly.

The Red Sox were aggressive bringing Price back so quickly, and set themselves up for a second guess if something went wrong. But Price preserved the second of two leads his offense gave him and didn’t let the game get out of hand. After the Cabrera homer put the White Sox up two, the Red Sox answered immediately in the top of the fourth to tie at 3-3.

The argument that Price did better than anyone else would have in his place is a fair one, considering John Farrell and Co. slated Price to pitch Monday before they watched Brian Johnson’s complete-game shutout.

The bigger question was always about what was best for Price’s future, and Monday looks like something he can build on. He may have benefited from the adrenaline of being back in the majors.