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Red Sox Notebook

Outlook has been good for Youkilis

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 10, 2009
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Kevin Youkilis has never been a big fan of sitting on the bench. He would prefer to play - no matter what.

But as he sat yesterday for the fifth straight game, Youkilis reported that his side is improving, and that coping with the forced sitdown has gotten easier with the Red Sox winning, for the most part.

"If we were losing, yeah, I'd be really [upset]," Youkilis said. "When you're winning, it's a lot better. Granted, I don't like sitting, watching baseball games. It's not fun. But it's fun to watch this.

"Twelve-run inning with no outs, that was fun to watch. [Friday] night was fun to watch. But it's a lot easier when you're playing good baseball. Watching these guys play good baseball is awesome. It's easier to digest."

The Sox appear to have no desire to put him on the disabled list. With Youkilis unlikely to play tonight, and with tomorrow's offday, he will have had seven days off. That doesn't mean he'll be ready, but he'd like to be.

"I don't think it's off-base to say that," Youkilis said when asked if he wouldn't play until the team travels to the West Coast. "I haven't really picked up a bat. I would love to be able to play Tuesday [in Anaheim], that would be great."

In a tight spot
Even though tough lefthander Scott Kazmir was on the mound for the Rays, that wasn't why J.D. Drew was on the bench. Drew is 1 for 7 lifetime against Kazmir, but it was his left quadriceps that kept him out of the game, the same injury that kept him on the bench for one game in Cleveland last week.

"It's kind of been aggravated," Drew said. "I felt it tighten up pretty good the other night, couple nights ago."

The right fielder played through it Friday night.

"Kind of limited myself on having to sprint as fast as I could. I told them I'd do everything to be in that game," said Drew, who indicated that manager Terry Francona gave him yesterday off to get him caught up.

"Felt good for about a week and then I was running first to third a couple nights ago and felt it tighten up," said Drew, who said he expected to play in tonight's game, then use tomorrow's day off to make sure the quadriceps is OK.

He said he was able to manage it well enough Friday night.

"Just told them my one concern was trying to extend it first to third," he said. "I was going to kind of play it on how I felt. If I felt it start to tighten up, I was going to have to back off, not run as hard . . . I'm not going to play the game if I don't feel like I can, as far as jeopardizing an injury. We've had to do that a couple times, once in Cleveland, where I knew that if I did something that next day, if I wasn't careful with it, that I could pull it and jeopardize a longer period of time."

A 21-runs salute
Evan Longoria has driven in 21 runs against the Red Sox this season, making him just the third player in 38 years to drive in at least that many against the Sox in one season. Toronto's Vernon Wells had 22 in 2006, and Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. had 24 in 1996. Longoria and the Rays have nine more games against the Red Sox this season.

"I think amazed might be the right word," former teammate Rocco Baldelli said. "When he showed up, he probably thought he was this good, in a good way. That's probably what's enabled him in his second year. He's probably one of the premier players in major league baseball."

Depth perception
With all the injuries - David Ortiz (stiff neck), Jacoby Ellsbury (hamstring), Drew, and Youkilis - the bench has been short. Francona has not had any substitutes at times in some games, making certain moves impossible . . . Even with tomorrow's day off, the starters will stay on their normal turns for the road trip . . . Baldelli became the second Rhode Islander to homer for the Red Sox. The other was pitcher Lefty Lefebvre, who did it in the first at-bat of his career in 1938. "I get excited to hit a home run against anybody," Baldelli said. "It's not really anything special doing it against these guys. Maybe you'd like me to say it is special, so you can write a little blurb about it. It's not really." . . . On replay it appeared that Dustin Pedroia was hit by a pitch - on the bounce - by Kazmir in the fifth inning. Instead, it went as a wild pitch with Ellsbury moving up to second base. "I didn't feel it," Pedroia said. "I would have felt it. I would have took that base, don't worry." . . . Instead of taking their day off at home, the Sox will fly to the West Coast immediately after tonight's game. "I think half our guys are glad, half our guys aren't," Francona said. "But I just thought having a day off in one place would do us some good. There was no good way to do it."

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com.

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