World of hurt for Youkilis
Slugger has ankle and Achilles' woes
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Throughout the 2008 season, the right side of the Red Sox infield seemed invincible. Through the rest of the team's injuries, ailments, and struggles, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis were constants. Until they reached this spring's World Baseball Classic.
With the WBC in its second round, Pedroia and Youkilis have been eliminated from the tournament - not because Team USA hasn't won, but because of injuries. Just four days after Pedroia returned here to be examined by Red Sox doctors after suffering a minor strain in a left abdominal muscle, Youkilis came back to Sox camp with an injury to his left ankle.
When Youkilis returned yesterday, he was checked out by the medical staff and diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain and mild Achilles' tendinitis, according to a statement released by the Red Sox. The first baseman had two MRIs yesterday, both of which were negative, according to the team.
The statement also said that "to limit movement and allow his ankle to heal, Youkilis will wear a walking boot for the next several days but is not expected to miss significant time.
"Youkilis originally experienced some pain in his left ankle several days ago and it worsened in [Tuesday] night's game vs. Team Puerto. He will no longer participate in the World Baseball Classic."
As for Youkilis missing the rest of the WBC, his agent, Joe Bick, said, "The constant decision has been to err on the side of caution, which under the circumstances I understand.
"I know for Kevin it's disappointing."
Youkilis had been experiencing ankle tenderness before it became exacerbated in the game against Puerto Rico, to the point that teammate Brad Ziegler told ESPN.com the first baseman could barely walk around the training room after the game.
Team USA manager Davey Johnson said Youkilis left the squad because of a sore left ankle. Youkilis will be replaced by the Nationals' Adam Dunn, who played first base in Team USA's game against Venezuela last night.
"He wasn't going to miss [Tuesday night's] game for the world," Johnson told reporters in Miami. Youkilis had been serving as the team's cleanup hitter and had hit three home runs in the first two rounds.
Though the Red Sox know Pedroia and Youkilis could have been injured just as easily while in camp with the Sox, as Julio Lugo was recently, the team can't be happy with the injuries to two of its top players.
And there are problems beyond injuries related to the WBC. Hitting coach Dave Magadan said Tuesday that the WBC has left some players behind schedule.
"I think they get out of their routine more than anything," said Magadan. "I was talking to Dustin about that, that he's got a set routine that he does, and when they've got as many players as they have on the roster and not that many [coaches], you probably don't get the work that you normally would get here.
"A lot of guys feel pride for their country, like [David Ortiz] does, and know it's an important thing. But there's no question that especially a guy like David, who's very routine-oriented, and Dustin's the same way, they have their routine during the spring and during the regular season and when you get out of that, you get a little out of sorts. I think since he's been back he's probably felt more like himself."
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.