|Sox starter Tim Wakefield is contemplative as the Rays’ Evan Longoria rounds the bases after hitting a fourth-inning homer. (Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)|
Hoping he’s involved in a rally
Youkilis finds out today if he’s Star
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Kevin Youkilis was back in the Red Sox’ lineup last night, the unusual cramp in his right ankle that forced him to leave Tuesday’s game in the fourth inning having passed.
Now, Youkilis will learn today whether he is headed for the All-Star Game.
Youkilis and Nick Swisher of the Yankees were in a virtual dead heat to claim the final spot on the American League roster, according to Major League Baseball. The online voting ends at 4 p.m. today, with the winner announced shortly after.
Swisher’s lead on Youkilis was less than 1 percent, with Paul Konerko of the White Sox, Michael Young of the Rangers, and Delmon Young of the Twins trailing.
The Red Sox and Yankees mounted aggressive campaigns for their respective players. The Yankees enlisted a number of celebrities to stump for Swisher on Twitter, including Jessica Alba, Ivanka Trump, New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg (once a Red Sox fan), and NBA star Baron Davis.
The Red Sox countered with e-mails to fans, along with television and radio announcements.
Ellsbury has been away from the team since June 4, receiving treatment at the Athletes’ Performance training center near his home in Arizona. The 26-year-old has been on the disabled list for much of the season with fractured ribs.
The plan is for Ellsbury to be examined by the medical staff tomorrow, work out with the team for a few days, then report to the Red Sox complex in Fort Myers Monday to continue his rehabilitation.
“We’re kind of excited to see where he’s at,’’ Francona said. “We wanted to get our eyes on him before we turned him loose.’’
Francona did not know to what extent Ellsbury is able to engage in baseball activities, such as throwing, running, and swinging a bat. He has played in only three games since April 11.
There is no timetable for Ellsbury to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment. Given his slow progress, it seems unlikely Ellsbury would return to the major league roster before mid-August.
The 30-year-old Shealy spent parts of four seasons (2005-08) with the Rockies and Royals, hitting .271 with 19 homers and 94 RBIs. He signed a minor league contract with the Rays over the winter, but opted out in June to sign with the Red Sox.
He played 18 games at Pawtucket, hitting .246 with two home runs.
Shealy will become the backup first baseman, a player the Sox have lacked since Mike Lowell went on the DL June 24.
“Hopefully I’ll fit in wherever I can, drive in some runs if given the opportunity,’’ Shealy said. “Just be myself and be productive and when called upon, do my job.’’
Shealy missed the 2009 season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee.
“I was just running into second base and I felt something and the next day it was all swollen up. That shut me down,’’ he said. “This year I’ve been playing catch-up trying to get back to where I was a couple of years ago. So far it feels good. No complaints.’’
Romero was thrust into the cleanup spot Tuesday when Youkilis left the game. He went 0 for 4 and stranded six runners.