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Kevin Youkilis on landing on the disabled list: ‘It stinks’

05.02.12 at 6:21 pm ET
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Kevin Youkilis is one of just two remaining members of the 2004 World Series team. (AP)

Kevin Youkilis landed on the disabled list due to discomfort in his back. (AP)

This past Sunday in Chicago Kevin Youkilis was given the day off due to back stiffness. But instead of the pain subsiding with a day of rest, it increased, and the third baseman was forced out of action again on Monday as a late scratch. It became clear, while the 33-year-old watched from the dugout again on Tuesday night, that the malady was more than stiffness.

“It’s going to take me three or four days of just trying to get through, and not do to much baseball stuff where I can irritate it more,” Youkilis said before Wednesday’s game against the As. “We’re trying to make strides and steps forward, and that’s the key right now.

“The good thing is, they know whats going on,” he continued. “There is nothing like a surgery or major injury, or anything like that.”

Still, given that he has already missed three games and would be unable to take part in baseball activities for another few days, the decision was made to place the third baseman on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Sunday. The decision became easier given that Youkilis has been trying to manage it beyond even the missed games. The Sox saw an opportunity to have Youkilis spend some time down while turning to Will Middlebrooks, a prospect who has been pounding the ball in Triple-A.

“We’ve got to get ahead of this thing with Youk. He’s been battling the back and we feel like the season is too long to have him swimming upstream for too much longer and we’re trying to use this downtime to get ahead of it,” said GM Ben Cherington. “In the meantime, we’ve got a guy who’s been swinging the bat and can come up and get his feet wet.

“[Youkilis has] just got to feel better physically,” Cherington added. “Coming off last year where he missed a lot of time [due to a sports hernia that required surgery], he was just kind of getting back in. It was an unorthodox approach obviously with what he does with his hands and he was starting to get comfortable with that again when the back flared up. We just have to get him feeling better. If he feels better and is playing consistently, we know he’s going to hit. We have to get to that point.”

Although back injuries are always worrisome, Youkilis feels the team is taking a proactive approach in deterring any future ailments from flaring up, and foresee any long-term impact. Youkilis noted he could hit balls to right field, but couldn’t turn on any pitches on the inner half of the plate on Sunday during batting practice. The pain grew over the course of the next two days and peaked Tuesday night, when he was limited to standing in the on-deck circle as a decoy in an unsuccessful effort to deter the A’s from bringing in a left-handed reliever.

On Wednesday, however, Youkilis witnessed improvement in his condition.

“Basically the last couple days have been bad,” Youkilis said. “We’re trying to get through it, and have made great strides from yesterday to today.”

The nagging setback adds to a frustrating start to the 2012 campaign for Youkilis. He is hitting just .219 with a .292 OBP, .344 slugging mark and .635 OPS, and he has missed five of the 23 games played thus far due to both the back injury and a groin injury.

“It definitely stinks,” Youkilis said of the injuries. “Some of it could be related to that area. It’s all around the same area, up in the core area where things happen. One was a hit by pitch, but we got rained out so that didn’t really matter the next day. There’s things you can’t control like that. You get hit by a pitch, and the next thing you know, your whole leg is locked up. You can’t do anything about that. That just happens. It’s frustrating. I don’t want to be injured. I want to play. There’s nothing I can do but get healthy and try to help this team win.”

In the meantime, the Red Sox called up Middlebrooks to take Youkilisis’ place in the line up. Middlebrooks is batting .333 with a .380 OBP, .677 slugging mark, 1.057 OPS and nine home runs in 24 games with the PawSox this season.

“He’s a great guy, a great player, and hopefully he can help this team win,” Youkilis said of Middlebrooks. “It’s a good opportunity for him to come out and play at this level, and it’s going to be an exciting time for him to go out there and play. He’ll remember this for the rest of his life, so hopefully he goes out there and does well. I was telling him, ‘Don’t try to do too much. Understand that you’ve played this game your whole life. This is another level, but you can play at this level.’”

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