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Youkilis willing to play with pain

He’ll have offseason surgery for hernia

By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / September 14, 2011

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Back in the lineup doesn’t mean injury-free, or even pain-free. Injuries, pain, and soreness aren’t going away any time soon for Kevin Youkilis. But it’s something the Red Sox third baseman has dealt with before, and will deal with for the rest of this season.

Plus, with the Sox’ wild-card lead at the start of the night down to just three games, any boost - from anybody - would be greatly appreciated.

Youkilis returned to his customary spot on the field and in the lineup last night against the Blue Jays, after sitting out the weekend series against Tampa Bay.

He recently spent 15 days on the disabled list with a back injury, and since has been diagnosed with bursitis in his hip and a hernia, which cost him the three games against the Rays.

The two most recent injuries are on the left side, as was the back ailment. For now, Youkilis plans on playing through it, and will undergo surgery for the hernia after the season.

“There’s a lot of guys banged up here. It’s September, there’s a lot of guys that are always hurting and feeling stuff,’’ Youkilis said before the game. “I’ve been unfortunate with my hip that just never really has healed, it’s just basically been inflamed. It’s one of those things, you hope it gets better and better, but it just hasn’t.

“Basically we’ll just attack it as best we can, and just go day-to-day, and play it as I can tolerate. Hopefully that’s every day and all nine innings.’’

Youkilis had a hernia in 2006, but he dealt with that one in a different way. Instead of having offseason surgery, rest was prescribed. Not this time.

“It’s an easy procedure that a lot of guys have done,’’ Youkilis said. “Hopefully it’ll help me come back feeling good.’’

Youkilis received a cortisone injection for his hip last Friday, and took advantage of Monday’s offday by working out at Fenway. When he arrived at the park yesterday, he was ready to play.

“Youk came out [Monday] and worked out a little bit. I don’t think if he wouldn’t have done that he would have been able to play today,’’ Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I called him a couple of times and he said, ‘I’m ready to go.’ Because he knows where he’s at physically, I think he’s probably able to get through this a little bit.

“I think he can still be productive like he was. If we need to keep an eye on him, we certainly will. Try to pick our spots to maybe rest him a little bit. Having him back right in the middle of the order should help, especially against lefthanded pitching.’’

Youkilis, who entered the game batting .261, was promptly hit on the left side by a Brandon Morrow pitch in his first at-bat. He grounded to short in the third and fifth innings, and struck out swinging in the seventh. He also dived to his left and robbed Edwin Encarnacion of a hit in the top of the seventh, quickly getting to his feet and throwing a bullet to first.

The play was a gem, but it also put more wear and tear on his body.

“For me, I’ve just got to go out there and not worry about what’s going on physically, and mentally just push myself through it,’’ said Youkilis, who was replaced by Mike Aviles in the top of the eighth. “Bottom line for me is just going out there and playing through it.’’

With key games coming up - the hard-charging Rays are in town for four starting tomorrow - anything Youkilis can give might make a difference, even if he’s not completely healthy. Then again, few players this time of year are.

“It’s not like football where you have six days until your next game. You’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to play, and figure out a way to do it, and if you’re not 100 percent, you’ve got to try your best to get to 100 percent,’’ Youkilis said. “Sometimes guys have to play in April at 75 percent, and sometimes [injuries happen] later in the year, and sometimes guys deal with stuff all year.

“I always joke around and say once you put on spikes the first day of spring training, you’re not healthy for the rest of the year. That’s every guy in baseball, so you’re on an even playing field with that. You’ve just got to play through stuff.’’

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com.

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