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Youkilis to begin five-game suspension tonight

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 12, 2009 03:47 PM

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The Red Sox' Kevin Youkilis and Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello have each been suspended for five games by Major League Baseball for their roles in last night's bench-clearing brawl at Fenway.

"You've just got to do what you got to do," Youkilis said. "I don't really have an opinion on it. It is what it is. You just got to move forward. Hopefully the next four days will be quick."

Youkilis initially was penciled in to the starting lineup, batting fourth. But manager Terry Francona revealed in his meeting with the media at approximately 4 p.m. that Youkilis would begin his suspension tonight. Casey Kotchman will replace him at first base.

The Red Sox decided not to appeal after Francona, Youkilis, general manager Theo Epstein, and Joe Bick, Youkilis's agent, met this afternoon. The Red Sox are relatively healthy now, and while "I don't there's ever a good time to not have him," Francona said, they want to just get the suspension over with.

"We decided to take our medicine and move on," Francona said. "We seem to be healthy right now. There's always the idea that you could get it reduced. There's also the idea that it could come at a worse time. So take our medicine, do the best we can, and move on."

Youkilis and Porcello were also fined an undisclosed amount, as was Detroit's Edwin Jackson. Porcello has appealed his suspension.

Youkilis has been hit by 10 pitches this season, fourth in the American League, and he has been a common target in the past as well.

"The past two days, there was a reason," Youkilis said. "But other than that, I don't know. I can't say there's always a reason. Sometimes, you get hit by pitches, it could be curveballs or sliders that hit you. You know they're not intentional. Sometimes, there is intent. It's unforunate that it tends to happen more in the American League than the National League. That's just how the game is.

"I disagree with the whole, I'm over the plate all the time and this and that. Because when you're taking first pitch and you're just standing there, you're not leaning into a pitch. When you're diving sometimes you get that. But if you're not diving. ... Guys like to pitch inside and you're going to get hit. To me, it's all about the timing and the intent."

Before last night, no matter how many times he'd been hit, Youkilis had not once charged the mound. After getting hit Monday and last night, he decided enough was enough.

"I don't have any regrets over it," Youkilis said. "The kids I work with in my charity and stuff like that, just telling them that's not the right thing to do. But there comes a point in your life where it takes so much, and if people don't do things in the right manner, then you get kind of fed up with it. You have to do what you have to do in life to protect yourself. I take one ball off the eye or anything like that, my career could be over. And I take a lot of pride in this career.

Francona chose Kotchman because he wanted to give Victor Martinez a day off, in part so he could work with bullpen coach Gary Tuck on catching knuckleballs out of a machine. Martinez will catch tomorrow.

Youkilis charged the mound in the second inning after being hit with a Porcello pitch. He threw his helmet at the 20-year-old righthander and they grappled before falling to the ground as the benches emptied. Order was restored quickly, but Youkilis and Porcello were both ejected. Porcello turned back to scream at the umpire as he left the field.

It was the second straight game and 10th time this season that Youkilis has been hit by a pitch. Last night, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was hit in the left hand in the top of the first by Red Sox rookie Junichi Tazawa.

In the bottom of the inning, Porcello threw close to the Red Sox' Victor Martinez, but did not hit him. Youkilis, the first batter of the following inning, was hit in the back with Porcello's first pitch.

He dropped his bat and ran toward Porcello, flinging his batting helmet at the pitcher chaos briefly ensued.

ďIíve never been involved in something like that," said Porcello, 20. "I didnít know what to expect. I donít remember much about it. I had a lot of adrenaline running. And thatís all."

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