Notes: Youkilis knocked out after HBP

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Notes: Youkilis knocked out after HBP

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Kevin Youkilis left Monday's game against the Blue Jays after being hit in the upper left part of his back by a Brandon Morrow pitch in the fourth inning.

We got him out for precautionary reasons, Francona said. He got a headache and well reevaluate. Looked like he was hit in the upper lat, fortunately."

It was the ninth time Youkilis has been hit by a pitch this season.

Since being named to his first All-Star team on Sunday, Jacoby Ellsbury has gone 6-for-9, with a run scored, two RBI, a triple, and two stolen bases, raising his average to .310. His performance in these two games, though, should come as no surprise.

After appearing in just 18 games last season, Ellsburys performance this season has been what the Sox hoped they would be getting from Ellsbury as a lead-off hitter when they drafted him in the first round out of Oregon State in 2005.

He leads the American League with 26 stolen bases and is among the league leaders in average, runs scored (58), hits (104), doubles (23), and is tied for the longest hitting streak, at 19 games.

Against the Blue Jays Monday afternoon at Fenway Park, Ellsbury went 4-for-5, matching a career single-game high in hits for the fifth time, second this season , with a run scored, a triple, two RBI, and a stolen base.

His fifth-inning triple, his first since Sept. 23, 2009, drove in the Sox first two runs of the game.

Once it bounced I knew I had a good shot at a triple, Ellsbury said. Especially, us being down in the situation like that, you got to know you have a triple and theres not really going to be a play. So, I knew once it hit the ground I had a triple all the way.

In his last 35 games since May 25, he is batting .340, 50-for-147, with nine doubles, a triple, and five home runs.

His leadoff single to center was the 500th hit of his career. It came in his 432nd game. Since 1920, Ted Williams (in his 385th game on Aug. 7, 1941) and Dom DiMaggio (i428, May 18, 1946) are the only other Sox outfielders to reach 500 hits in fewer games.

I feel good at the plate, Ellsbury said. I try to come in each and every day and just be as consistent as possible, and Ive been doing that thus far and hopefully continue to do that.

With the triple, a stolen base, and some nice plays in the field, Ellsburys speed was on display in the game.

I try to be a complete player, he said. I try to do it on the defensive side, on the bases, and when Im at the plate. Use it to my advantage. Today I had the opportunity to display it in a bunch of different ways.

Jarrod Saltalamacchias eighth-inning, two-run triple off the top of the scoreboard in left-center was his second triple of the season, a career single-season high. With the temperature at 84 degrees at first pitch, and rising, Saltalamacchia needed a saline IV after the game.

It was just hot, he said. It was a hot day. We traveled from Houston Sunday night. Just a hot day, a couple long innings. Just wanted to make sure I wasnt dehydrated. So got an IV. Normal stuff.

Legging out a triple, especially late in the game, wasnt the easiest task.

It was tough, but it was adrenaline pumping, he said. I hit the ball good. Knew it was going to get off the Wall and then once it got past the outfielders, I went into third.

Dan Wheeler came in to relieve John Lackey, who lasted just 2 13 innings. Wheeler went 2 23 innings, retiring all eight batters he faced. It was his longest outing since going three innings on Sept. 27, 2006, while with the Astros in Pittsburgh. It was his longest perfect outing since going three perfect innings June 18, 2003, while with the Mets in Florida. It matches the longest perfect outing by a Sox reliever this season, with Alfredo Aceves 2 23 innings on April 11 against the Rays.

David Ortizs eighth-inning ground-rule double to left field snapped an 0-for-23 stretch, (the longest hitless streak of his career, according to Elias Sports Bureau) going back to a third inning double on June 20 against the Padres at Fenway.

The Sox loss, which snapped a four-game win streak, was their third straight on Independence Day.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

The Red Sox need to let their lineup sort itself out a bit, and really, need to see how one core player in particular fares: Xander Bogaerts. 
 
Until then, Red Sox manager John Farrell should try to alternate right- and left-handed hitters as much as possible against right-handed pitching
 
If Thursday’s Grapefruit League lineup indeed winds up as a preview for the regular season, Farrell’s on the right track.
 
1. Dustin Pedroia 2B
2. Andrew Benintendi LF
3. Mookie Betts RF
4. Hanley Ramirez DH
5. Mitch Moreland 1B
6. Xander Bogaerts SS
7. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
8. Pablo Sandoval 3B
9. Blake Swihart C
 
Sandy Leon or Christian Vazquez should be at catcher normally, rather than Swihart. (If Leon shows he can in fact hit again, the Sox could also decide to put Jackie Bradley Jr. in the nine-hole.)
 
"Maybe a first look at our lineup," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida. "I'm not saying this is Opening Day, but this is potential for one on Opening Day. And just to get everybody back in the rhythm. We've kind of fragmented because of the WBC and because of travel and bouncing around the state. To get our camp finally together, I think we're all looking forward to these last remaining games."
 
Betts is the best all-around producer the Red Sox have. He should be in the three-hole, despite chatter than Andrew Benintendi might be a fit.
 
But Bogaerts’ success will determine a lot of the flexibility available to Farrell. (Yes, everybody has to be healthy for the above statement to be true. And remember, lineups are important, but probably not as important as we’ve all been raised to believe). 

If Bogaerts plays like he did in the first half, when he batted .329 en route to an All-Star appearance, he could easily slide into the three-hole, and push Betts into the second or fourth spot. Or even leadoff.
 
If Bogaerts is the .253 hitter he was after the All-Star break, well, the second half of the lineup is where he belongs. 
 
Bogaerts is, ultimately, better than he showed as both he and the season wore down. But let him establish himself in a groove before you start loading up the top of the lineup with right-handed hitters, thereby giving opposing managers a clear path for righty relievers.
 
(The Red Sox could pinch hit Chris Young at any time, but you’re usually not taking out one of your best players just for a platoon advantage.)
 
And from another perspective, you almost need Bogaerts in the second half of the lineup. Because what else is there?
 
Say the Sox load all four right-handed hitters at the top.
 
1. Pedroia
2. Bogaerts
3. Betts
4. Ramirez 
 
That’s awesome. Then what? Benintendi and cross your fingers? Benintendi seems as sure a thing as any sophomore — well, technically a rookie — can be. But still.
 
This is where Moreland and Sandoval represent other X-factors. All spring, there’s been talk of how Fenway Park and a use-all-fields approach will benefit Moreland. That may be so — but to what extent? How much better can he reasonably be? The Sox are internally encouraged.
 
As it stands now, however, there’s no obvious choice to protect Ramirez, considering Moreland is coming off a season where he had a .293 on-base percentage against righties.
 
And with Sandoval, whether he’s anything more than a wet napkin vs. left-handed pitching is to be seen. There’s reason to believe he can handle right-handed pitchers at least adequately, so he'll get the start — but he could be the first guy pinch hit for nightly.
 

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.