By Art Martone
So why do I think that, any day now, the Red Sox are going to announce that Kevin Youkilis has been shut down for the season?
Because we've seen this act before.
Youkilis is (admirably) attempting to play throw both bursitis in his hip and a sports hernia, though he's not doing it very successfully; he's only 6-for-40 (.150) since coming off the disabled list at the beginning of the month. Plus his range in the field is greatly diminished, as anyone who's seen him attempt to play third base these last few weeks can attest.
So when the Sox announced after Thursday night's loss that Youk is being given Friday night off -- even though they're locked in a life-and-death playoff struggle with the Rays, even though every game is beyond important -- two words leapt to mind.
Lowell also attempted to keep on keeping on in September 2008, even though a hip injury that would eventually require surgery -- and, really, end his days as an everyday player -- had hobbled him to the point that he could barely move. The Sox tried to make it work, but eventually they succumbed to the obvious. He left the lineup on Sept. 16 (kismet!), made one more attempt to come back (playing three innings on Sept. 26), then sat out the rest of the way.
The two differences: Youkilis' injuries may not be quite as debilitating (though you couldn't tell by the way he's been playing) and the '08 Sox had options the '11 Sox don't. In '08, they moved a then-healthy Youkilis to third base and played Mark Kotsay and Sean Casey at first. Now, with Jed Lowrie also hurting, the Sox will be forced to go with Mike Aviles at third in some of the biggest games of the year.
Still, after hearing Terry Francona last night -- "He's sore . . . We'll watch him. He's nowhere near pulling the plug onthe season, or anything like that. But it's pretty obvious he'sstruggling out there." -- it just brought back memories of '08.
And led us to contemplate a stretch run with a utility guy from Kansas City in the starting lineup.
Art Martone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.