Youkilis trying to gut it out with offseason surgery looming
|09.13.11 at 8:15 pm ET|
It would be far more challenging to find a team this year when Kevin Youkilis has been healthy than it would be to identify when he hasn’t suffered from some affliction. His last four weeks have typified the 2011 campaign.
On Aug. 18, Youkilis was placed on the 15-day D.L. for a lower back strain, an injury that was a byproduct of his efforts to stay on the field while dealing with both bursitis in his hip and a sports hernia. The two weeks of down time were expected to help him be healthy for the stretch run.
Instead, he struggled to a 5-for-27 stretch (.185) in his first five games off the DL, then ended up missing the next three contests due to the ongoing pain from his hip injury and hernia.
The lineup felt his absence. The Sox scored just eight runs in the three contests Youkilis missed. And so, it was with some relief that manager Terry Francona was able to put the third baseman back in the fifth spot of the batting order on Tuesday. Youkilis will be playing through discomfort, but the Sox are optimistic that he will still be able to produce.
“Because he knows where he’s at physically, he’s probably able to try to get through this a little bit,” said Francona. “You may not see him steal 30 bases, which probably wasn’t going to happen anyway, but he can still be productive like he was. If we need to keep an eye on him, we certainly will. We’ll pick our spots to maybe rest him a little bit. But having him back right in the middle of the order should help, especially against lefthanded pitching.”
Youkilis said that he will need surgery in the offseason for the hernia, unlike 2006, when he played through a similar condition but was able to heal with rest during the winter. Even so, he is back in the lineup now, and expects that he will be able to contribute down the stretch.
After all, he has been playing with some variation of the condition for much of the season. He was, after all, named to his third All-Star team this year, hitting .285 with a .399 OBP, .512 slugging mark and .911 OPS despite dealing with injuries throughout the first half. While his numbers for the year (.261/.375/.467/.842) have tailed off considerably since then, Youkilis maintains that the injuries should not prevent him from impacting the Sox.
“The bottom line for me is going out there and playing through it. There’s a lot of guys banged up here. I’m not the only individual here. In September, there are always a lot of guys hurting and feeling stuff,” said Youkilis, who will wear special padding on his hip to try to decrease the impact of sliding and diving. “Basically, we’re going to attack it as best we can, go day to day and play as best as I can tolerate it. Hopefully that’s everyday and all nine innings.
“Hopefully, when I go back there and hit, play in the field, I look like I’m at 100 percent, I make the plays I need to make, go up there and have good at-bats, and help this team win,” he added. “It’s not like in football where you’ve got six days till your next game. You’ve got to go out there and play. You’ve got to figure out a way to do it. If you’re not at 100 percent, you’ve got to figure out a way to get to 100 percent.”
That is what Youkilis will attempt to do for the Sox over the duration of the season. But it remains to be seen at what level he can perform in the process.
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