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Youkilis got a hoot out of initiation

Rookie ritual all in good fun

TORONTO -- Anything but a one-game wonder, Kevin Youkilis followed his memorable debut Saturday (2 for 4 with a home run) by going 2 for 4 again yesterday as he tried to spare the Red Sox from a 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays at SkyDome. The rookie third baseman singled leading off the seventh and ninth innings, but the Sox were unable to capitalize.

Despite his effort, Youkilis found himself clad afterward in a skimpy Hooters ensemble as he joined Lenny DiNardo as victims of the team's annual rookie hazing. Sox veterans typically wait until the end of the season to dress the rookies in drag, but they apparently were enticed by the prospect of watching Youkilis and DiNardo pass through customs as Hooters girls.

In any case, Youkilis was thrilled simply to make the trip to Tampa Bay, where the Sox will open a three-game series tomorrow against the Devil Rays. Activated Saturday to fill in for Bill Mueller, who is sidelined with inflammation in his right knee, Youkilis knows the Sox could return him to Triple A Pawtucket at any time.

"I'm just here following orders," he said. "They haven't told me anything. I'm just going to go to Tampa, and if I'm in the lineup there, I'll go play the games."

Once Mueller is well enough to play regularly, Youkilis is likely to stick with the Sox only until they need an additional pitcher or until Trot Nixon or Nomar Garciaparra returns from the disabled list. Team officials believe Youkilis would be better served playing every day at Triple A than seeing limited action in the majors. Youkilis played all but 32 games last season at Double A Portland.

Manager Terry Francona said he does not believe Youkilis has accumulated enough at-bats at Triple A to justify turning him into a little-used bench player in the majors.

"If he's not going to play, I'm sure we'd be a little hesitant [keeping him]," Francona said. "You don't want to ever have your young guys go backwards or not play. That's tough."

As for Mueller, while the Sox remain hopeful he will return tomorrow, Francona was kicking himself a bit for using him as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning of a 12-6 loss Thursday to the Jays. Mueller singled, then was forced out sliding into second, which may have contributed to the swelling in his knee.

"He came in the next day and he was sore," Francona said. "I was kind of mad at myself. I probably shouldn't have done that."

Ramirez apologizes

Manny Ramirez made no secret of his disgust with plate umpire Rob Drake after Drake called a breaking ball from Roy Halladay a strike for an 0-2 count in the first inning. Ramirez, who rarely beefs about balls and strikes, pointed across the plate, arguing the ball was outside. When Ramirez laced the next pitch for a run-scoring single, he looked back at Drake as he ran toward first base and waved his right arm to underscore his displeasure with the call.

Drake carefully watched Ramirez, as if the ump might be close to tossing the slugger. But before Ramirez batted again in the third inning, he spoke to the ump.

"I apologized to him," Ramirez said. "I told him, `Sorry, man, that was a bad pitch. I didn't want to show you up.' "

Ramirez said Drake acknowledged the pitch was a ball.

"They make a lot of mistakes, but they're human," Ramirez said. "It's hard for them, but it was bad for me to show him up."

Because of some tenderness in his groin, Ramirez was scratched from starting in left field and served as the designated hitter, reaching safely for a 15th straight game. Francona said he wanted to avoid Ramirez aggravating the injury by having him play on the artificial turf at SkyDome.

"We're DH-ing him so maybe when we get down to Tampa he'll be OK to play the outfield again," Francona said.

With Ramirez serving as the DH, Brian Daubach, who initially was scheduled to play first base, moved to left field, with David Ortiz shifting from DH to first. Kevin Millar, who had started 11 straight games and was banged up from diving after balls in right field at SkyDome, sat out, with Cesar Crespo playing right.

Numbers game

When Pedro Martinez fanned Kevin Cash in the third inning for his 2,479th strikeout, he passed Jack Morris for 27th place on the all-time list. Don Drysdale ranks 26th with 2,486. The start was Martinez's 177th with the Sox, tying him for 13th place on the franchise list with Willard Nixon, who pitched for the team from 1950-58. But Martinez lost for the first time in eight career starts in Toronto and surrendered his seventh home run of the season after giving up just seven all last season . . . Tim Wakefield, who remained in Boston with his wife, Stacy, and their newborn son, was scheduled to work out at Fenway Park with Garciaparra as Wakefield prepared to face the Devil Rays tomorrow. Francona said the knuckleballer would get his regular work done at Fenway but would not torment Garciaparra by pitching batting practice to him. Garciaparra was scheduled to play a few simulated innings before the team reevaluates his status today or tomorrow. Wakefield was expected to fly to Florida today . . . Trot Nixon was tentatively scheduled to return to serving as designated hitter in extended spring training games today after he was set back by a strained left quadriceps in his recovery from a mildly herniated disk . . . Outfielder Henri Stanley, acquired from the Padres for a player to be named and cash, will report to Triple A Pawtucket. The Sox could make room for him on the 40-man roster by shifting someone from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. One candidate would be Jason Shiell, who is scheduled to undergo exploratory surgery on his right elbow today. Stanley, 27, a former Clemson star, has hit .293 with a .387 on-base percentage since he turned pro in 2000. 

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