Youkilis ready to make the switch


Youkilis ready to make the switch

By SeanMcAdam

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kevin Youkilis will turn 32 in a couple of weeks, an age at which most players beginning to transition from other positions to first base.

But this spring, Youkilis is going the other way. After playing first base for most of the last five seasons, Youkilis is heading to third base to accommodate the arrival of Adrian Gonzalez at first.

Youkilis, however, says that his adopted position is not as low maintenance as it might seem to the uninitiated.

"I think first base is demanding in a lot of ways, too,'' said Youkilis Tuesday morning before the first day of pitchers' and catchers' scheduled workouts. "People don't understand how much wear and tear the body takes when you're holding on runners, allways shuffling, every time a ground ball is hit you have to run to first base. At third base, there are games when you don't get a ball hit to you.

"First base is kind of overlooked in terms of the demands of the position -- if you play it well. And the good thing is, the older you get, the more comfortable you get with your fielding. I'm more comfortable now than I was at 24, or 25 at third base. Actually, with old age, it might be a blessing.''

The position switch is really no big deal, Youkilis insisted.

"I've been a third baseman for all my life and played third base at the major-league level quite a few times,'' said Youkilis. "For me, it's just about going out there and taking ground balls and getting used to all the little things that come with playing third base. Spring training is a good time to allow you to take a lot of reps and get it down. It's a little better than coming in in the middle of the season.''

Of course, there are differences between the corner infield spots and it will take some time for Youkilis to feel fully comfortable again at his old position.

"You have to charge the ball a little more,'' he said. "But you get used to that right away. It comes to you naturally when you play the position that you can't sit back. When you're playing first base, you kind of get a little lazy; whereas at third base, you're prepared.''

One area that could require a refresher course is the variety of arm angles from which a third baseman throws across the infield.

"It doesn't matter if you throw it underhand or over the top,'' he said. "As long as that bal gets to first base before the runner hits that bag, it doesn't really matter. But there are certain angles -- running in, barehanding a ball, you're going to throw underneath; charging a ball, you're going to throwa little sidearm; when you backhand a ball, you're going to come staight overthe top to fire -- you have to work on. Arm angles are probably the biggest thing you have to work on."

Sean McAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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


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.