Youkilis is ready to swing into action tonight
Everything went according to plan for Kevin Youkilis yesterday with Pawtucket. He had four at-bats and "got through the day real well," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. The only thing amiss was something that usually can't be said about Youkilis: He did not record any base hits.
"I asked him if he wanted to go to Double A so he could get some hits," said Francona, smiling. "He said no."
Youkilis chose a far more appealing option. He will be activated from the 15-day disabled list and return to the Red Sox starting lineup tonight, the first day he's eligible to do so. Youkilis has been sidelined since May 5 with a strained left oblique, the result of being hit by two pitches in roughly the same area.
Youkilis went 0 for 2 Monday night as a first baseman in Pawtucket, and he went 0 for 4 yesterday afternoon as a designated hitter in a game that started at noon.
Youkilis and the Sox were encouraged that he could play a day game immediately following a night game.
"He said he felt fine," Francona said. "I think he came through it feeling pretty well. And that's a quick turnaround, too."
His absence has been felt. With Youkilis and his .393 batting average, the Sox averaged 5.7 runs in their first 26 games. Since he left the lineup, they have scored more than five runs only three times in 13 games, a stretch during which they have gone 7-6. Including a 13-run outburst against Cleveland, the Sox have averaged 4.8 runs without Youkilis.
"We kind of miss his grinding at-bats," said Dustin Pedroia. "His eight-, nine-, 10-pitch at-bats get their starter out of the game a little earlier."
To make room for Youkilis, infielder Gil Velazquez will be sent to Pawtucket. First baseman Jeff Bailey, who replaced Youkilis in the starting lineup, will remain with the team.
Bailey, despite going 1 for 3 with an RBI single in the second last night, is hitting .190. But Francona has repeatedly expressed confidence in Bailey's hitting.
"I'm obviously showing them that I'm not letting it bother me," Bailey said.
Masterson's turn - between Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield - would have come Saturday, but Matsuzaka's insertion Friday, after Jon Lester and before Beckett, will give Beckett an extra day off.
Matsuzaka last threw Friday at Triple A, so he will be on six days' rest.
"No problems at all," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. He also said he "wasn't told anything" about a pitch limit for the start.
As it stands, Matsuzaka will oppose the Mets' Johan Santana.
"I'm not sure if it's good luck or bad luck," Matsuzaka said. "I personally will enjoy facing him. He's one of the great pitchers in the big leagues. It will be tough to win over such a great pitcher."
Masterson started last Sunday in Seattle, so he likely will not be available for relief until Friday. Masterson said he has no concern about the switch. Last season, Masterson transitioned from starter to reliever in the minor leagues.
Lowrie, who has been on the disabled list since April 13, had surgery on his left wrist precisely four weeks from yesterday. He was scheduled to return 6-8 weeks after the operation.
"The range of motion and the strength are coming back," Lowrie said. "I think the biggest difference is the pain. The pain isn't there when I do the grip-strength stuff. I felt the pain before, and I don't feel it now."
The strength in the wrist is up to about 80 percent of the strength in his right wrist; it was at roughly 50 percent prior to surgery.