Youkilis: 'I haven't been told anything'

735286.jpg

Youkilis: 'I haven't been told anything'

BOSTON Kevin Youkilis is out of the Red Sox starting lineup for the third straight game, as trade rumors continue to swirl around him, and as Will Middlebrooks continues to perform.

I have no thoughts on anything, Youkilis said in the Sox clubhouse before Saturdays game against the Braves. I havent been told anything so until Im told anything I can't really respond.

You want to play. I definitely want to play. You want to play the game, you want to enjoy it and you want to have fun. I dont know my situation. I never was told whats going on here. Lets put that straight. And Ill leave it at that. I dont want to start up anything. There was no conversation. That was it. but it has been addressed.

The statement is contrary to what manager Bobby Valentine indicated on Friday, when he said the situation had been addressed with Youkilis.

Before the lineup was put up? Thats true, Valentine said Saturday.

Asked when he specifically had that conversation with Youkilis, Valentine replied:

Im not going to go there. Because I dont want to pull out date books and all that kind of stuff.

But Valentine stressed there was a conversation with Youkilis on Friday.

I did yesterday, but not before the lineup was up, Valentine said. But Im not going there. I thought the question yesterday was whether he was spoken to before the game, before the lineup when I came up here to speak with the media and I said yes. I didnt speak to him. I thought he was spoken to. If he wasnt spoken to and he didnt understand, I made a mistake. And you know, somehow in life we all make mistakes. But I thought he was spoken to.

Valentine also said Friday he would play the hot hand. In this case it is Middlebrooks at third base.

Im just trying to play the people that I want to be in the lineup, Valentine said. I think thats one of the things Im allowed to do.

Valentine acknowledged it has not been easy managing the YoukilisMiddlebrooks situation.

And difficult and stressful, all those things, Valentine said.

Baseballs an interesting game and a lot of things are happening and happen in baseball that you have to adjust to. So Im trying to adjust to everything thats happening.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

bryce_harper_hunter_strickland_fight_052917.jpg

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

red_sox_dustin_pedroia_052917.jpg

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.