Youkilis ready for first base, 'excited to play'

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Youkilis ready for first base, 'excited to play'

BALTIMORE -- A little more than three weeks after being placed on the DL with lower back soreness, Kevin Youkilis returned to the lineup Tuesday.

Instead of his familiar spot at third base, however, Youkilis was at first base, with Adrian Gonzalez shifting to right field and rookie Will Middlebrooks remaining, for now, at third base.

"I'm good . . . good to go," said Youkilis.

As for returning to first, Youkilis didn't believe that would be much of an issue.

"I played it for many years," he said. "I'm good to go. I'm excited to play. They asked me, 'Are you OK playing first base?' I played first base for five years in my career. It's not like they asked me to play center."

"He said first base would be no problem at all," said manager Bobby Valentine. "He was ready to do whatever it took to help the team."

Youkilis said he achieved his goal of "being healthy and able to play" while on a week-long rehab stint with Pawtucket.

"I swung the bat good," he said. "I was just trying to get back into the swing of things and I felt good (Monday), so, doing good."

While manager Bobby Valentine has said he'll check with Youkilis to determine how much he can play right away, Youkilis didn't feel he had any restrictions.

"I think I'm capable of playing every day," said Youkilis. "I'm just excited about tonight and hopefully, I can do something good for this team."

"I told him, 'Just let me know,'" said Valentine, "and we'll take it day-by-day."

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.