Sox balancing three-way shuffle

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Sox balancing three-way shuffle

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.

Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

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Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

The Boston Red Sox put up six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. led the way for the Red Sox with four and three RBI respectfully. Both outfielders had two-run home runs in the Sox’ big first inning.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up one earned run in four innings, his ERA for the spring is now 0.68.

The Red Sox are back in action again on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m when Rick Porcello makes his final spring training start against the Minnesota Twins.

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Infielder Marco Hernandez may make the Red Sox roster after all.

Fellow infielder Josh Rutledge, the presumptive 25th man on the Red Sox, suffered a left hamstring strain on Tuesday against the Pirates, according to reporters in Florida, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.

If Rutledge isn’t ready for opening day, Hernandez, a left-handed hitter, may have his crack. 

The question is whether the Sox would be comfortable without a right-handed bat to complement both Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland on the corners. Rutledge was going to give the Sox that right-handed look they sought. (When Hanley Ramirez's shoulder will be healthy enough to play first base is unclear, but isn't expected to be too long.)

Neither Rutledge nor Hernandez has played first base in the majors or minors.

A big-league rookie last year, Hernandez has done decently against lefties at the upper levels of the minors, hitting .328 vs. them at Triple-A Pawtucket last season in 67 at-bats. He hit .315 in 54 at-bats at Pawtucket, with a .318 average against them that season in 88 at-bats for Double-A Portland.

Rutledge is a Rule 5 draft pick who has to remain on the major league 25-man roster the whole season or the Sox risk losing him. Placement on the disabled list doesn’t affect his status unless he’s on the disabled list for a very lengthy time.

An alternative option is Steve Selsky, who has first-base experience, but he's already been optioned.