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.

Drellich: MLB could explain umpire rulings more often

Drellich: MLB could explain umpire rulings more often

BOSTON — We know that Red Sox manager John Farrell did something wrong. In the absence of any sort of formal announcement otherwise, we’re left to assume the umpires did everything properly — but there’s room for MLB to make that clearer.

If the NBA can put out Last 2 Minute reports, why can’t MLB provide more regular explanations or reviews of contested calls?

Farrell on Tuesday said he’d like to see more public accountability in the umpiring realm, hours before the manager was to sit out Game No. 77. Farrell was suspended one game for making contact with crew chief Bill Miller on Saturday night as manager and umpire rained spittle on each other over a balk call that went against the Sox.

Well, was it a balk or not? Did Miller do anything wrong as well?

“I don’t know if there was anything levied on the other side,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that.”

But would he like such matters to always be public?

“I think there have been strides made in that way,” Farrell said. “I guess I would. I think everyone in uniform would prefer that to be made public. Whether or not that happens, I don’t know, but that would be a choice I would make.”

The league has a thorough internal review system. But it is just that: internal. Most of the time, any way.

On most every night at Fenway Park, there is someone on hand watching just the umpires and reviewing them.

MLB, to its credit, has announced suspensions for umpires in the past. The league has made public acknowledgments when calls have been made incorrectly. More of that seems viable — even if it’s an announcement to reaffirm that the call was made and handled properly, and here are the reasons why.

“I haven’t received any further determination or review of what transpired,” Farrell said. “My position, my stance, remains steadfast. I still firmly believe that time was called [before the balk call was made]. I wasn’t arguing the balk. I was arguing the timing of it. As I reiterated today to those that I spoke with, I still stand by my side of the argument. Unfortunately, there was contact made.”

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

BOSTON — It doesn’t really matter what’s holding Hanley Ramirez back: his health, his desire to play through injuries, neither, both. The Red Sox need him to hit better as the designated hitter, or give someone else a chance in his place.

Tuesday is June 27. From May 27 on, Ramirez is hitting .202 with a .216 on-base percentage and .369 slugging percentage.

Putting Ramirez on the disabled list so that he can heal up, or at least attempt to, would be reasonable. If you can’t hit well — if you can’t even be in the lineup, as has been the case the last two days — you're hampering the roster.

Ramirez was out of the lineup for a second straight game on Tuesday because of his left knee, which was hit by a pitch Sunday. He’s been bothered by his shoulders all season.

“He’s improved today. He’s responding to treatment,” manager John Farrell said Tuesday of Ramirez’s knee. “He’s still going through some work right now. Would get a bat in his hand here shortly to determine if he’s available to pinch hit tonight. Prior to yesterday’s game, day to day, and still in that status, but he is improving.”

The route to better production doesn’t matter. As long as the Sox get some, be it from Ramirez or somewhere else. Flat-out benching Ramirez in favor of Chris Young or Sam Travis or both for a time should be on the table.

When it comes to lineups vs. lefties, Farrell might be thinking the same way. 

Farrell was asked Tuesday if he’d consider playing someone at DH other than Ramirez for performance reasons.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Farrell said. “Where he was so good against left-handed pitching last year, that’s been still a work in progress, for lack of a better way to describe it. So we’re always looking to put the best combination on the field.”

A right-handed hitter, Ramirez is just 5-for-35 (.143) vs. lefties this season, after hitting .346 against them a year ago.

On the flip side: in the final three months of the 2016 season, Ramirez hit .300 with a .379 OBP and .608 slugging percentage overall. That’s from the start of July through the end of the regular season vs. all pitchers.

“You know, the one thing you can’t completely turn away from is what Hanley did last year,” Farrell said. “While I know that’s last year, we’re still working to get some increased performance from him. I think he’s still a key member in our lineup. The presence he provides, the impact that he’s capable of. And yet, we’re still working to get there.”

Farrell said the team hasn’t been able to pinpoint a particular reason for Ramirez’s struggles vs. southpaws.

“No,” Farrell said. “There’s been extensive video review. There’s been extensive conversations with him. There’s been stretches, short stretches, where he’s I think shown the approach at the plate and the all field ability to drive the baseball. That’s been hit and miss a little bit. So, we’re just trying to gain a consistency that he’s been known for.”

Mitch Moreland's been playing with a fractured big toe in his left foot. After he homered and had another impactful night Monday, Farrell made some comments that are hard to read as anything but a message to Ramirez.

“In [Moreland's] most recent stretch, he’s been able to get on top of some fastballs that have been at the top of the strike zone or above for some power obviously,” Farrell said. “But I think the way he’s gone about it given the physical condition he’s in, is a strong message to the remainder of this team.”

Asked about that comment a day later, Farrell shot down the idea he was trying to reach Ramirez or anyone else with that remark about playing hurt.

“No,” Farrell said Tuesday. “I respect the question, but that was to highlight a guy who has been dealing with a broken toe, continues to perform at a high level and to compliment Mitch for the way he’s gone about it.”

It doesn't matter why Ramirez isn't producing, at a certain point. Either he is or he isn't. If not, they need to be willing to give someone else an extended look, whether it lands Ramirez on the DL or simply the bench.