D.J. Short

Baseball Daily Dose

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Red Sox Lose Youk to DL

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Red Sox are obviously still an excellent bet to make the postseason, but their lineup isn't nearly as intimidating as it was a few days ago. While David Ortiz is currently sidelined with right heel bursitis, Kevin Youkilis was placed on the disabled list Thursday with back stiffness.

Youkilis has played through various bumps and bruises this season, which at least provides some explanation for his current .266/.380/.481 batting line. The interesting part is that while his line drive rate is right where it should be, he is hitting more ground balls this season than ever before. In comparison with most players, his .300 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) looks pretty respectable, but not so much when you consider that his career average BABIP is .329. Simply put, he has been an easier out this season than in the past.

The good news is that opposed to the Clay Buchholz situation, doctors didn't find anything structurally wrong with Youkilis' back, so he is expected to return from the disabled list as soon as he is eligible during the first week of September.

The Red Sox called up prospect catcher/designated hitter Ryan Lavarnway to replace Youkilis on the active roster and he is expected to fill in at DH while Ortiz is sidelined. The 24-year-old was batting .293/.372/.559 with 30 homers and 85 RBI between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this season. With his catcher-eligibility, he is worth a whirl in AL-only formats. Jed Lowrie should get most of the playing time at third base for now while Mike Aviles continues to fill in at shortstop for Marco Scutaro, who is day-to-day with a back issue of his own.

While the Red Sox will try to patch things together until they get healthy, here are some more news and notes from around the baseball world.

* If you ever needed proof that Jeff Francoeur is one of the most polarizing figures in the internet baseball community, look no further than the reaction to his new two-year, $13.5 million contract extension on Thursday. Granted, nobody was really in love with it, but there was plenty of spirited debate about whether the contract was actually justified.

Most will agree that Francoeur has exceeded all expectations this season. The 27-year-old is batting .277/.329/.463 with 15 homers, 66 RBI, a career-high 19 stolen bases and a .793 OPS over 513 plate appearances. Hate him all you want, but there's plenty of value there, especially in fantasy leagues.

It's pretty difficult to quibble with the money since the Royals have little in the way of payroll commitments in 2012 and 2013, but Francoeur isn't exactly the best bet for a repeat. Besides, there's an argument to be made that the Royals could get essentially the same production with Melky Cabrera in right field and promoting the younger, cheaper Lorenzo Cain to play center field. No, this contract isn't the end of the world, but many will continue to question Dayton Moore's philosophy in regard to major league talent.

* Alex Rodriguez remains in a state of limbo. He went through a workout at Target Field on Thursday afternoon, after which Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he won't be activated from the disabled list until Saturday at the earliest. While A-Rod went 4-for-11 (.364) with a home run and a double during his four-game rehab assignment, he his legs aren't quite up to speed.

Rodriguez underwent surgery on July 11 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. The 36-year-old third baseman was homerless over his final 85 at-bats before going on the disabled list, but the hope is that he will be able to drive the ball with authority upon his return. The Yankees are in pretty great shape to make the playoffs, so while it would be nice to have him back in fantasy leagues, they have little reason to rush him back into the lineup.

* Nationals prospect outfielder Bryce Harper might be done for the season. The 18-year-old phenom strained his right hamstring while running the bases Thursday in a game with Double-A Harrisburg. It isn't a major concern, but since there are only two and a half weeks left in the minor league schedule, it doesn't make much sense to push him back on the field if he doesn't improve in the next few days.

Harper dominated with Class A Hagerstown this season, batting .318/.423/.554 with 14 homers and a .977 OPS, but he has looked his age since a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg in early July, batting .256/.329/.395 with three homers, 12 RBI and a .724 OPS. While it would be a shame to see his first professional season end like this, he is expected to play in the Arizona Fall League for a second straight year in October.

NL Quick Hits: Cole Hamels (shoulder) is expected to throw a bullpen session Friday … Clayton Kershaw struck out six over eight shutout innings Thursday in a win over the Brewers … Tim Lincecum yielded one-run over seven innings in Thursday's tough-luck loss to the Braves … Tommy Hanson (shoulder) is likely to miss at least one more week … Ryan Howard was held out of the lineup Thursday after dealing with cramping in his right hand during Wednesday's game … Rickie Weeks (ankle) took some light batting practice Wednesday, but is unlikely to return until September … Shane Victorino had his recent suspension reduced to two games and began serving it Tuesday night … Jordan Zimmerman tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings in a win over the Reds on Thursday night … Stephen Strasburg (elbow) will make his fourth minor league rehab start Monday with Class A Hagerstown … Brian Wilson (elbow) was unavailable for the third straight game Thursday … Tim Stauffer spun seven shutout frames in Thursday's win over the Marlins … Mike Minor struck out nine over six shutout frames in a win over the Giants on Thursday … The MLBPA formally filed a grievance against the Cubs on Thursday on behalf of Carlos ZambranoChipper Jones homered and doubled in a win over the Giants on Thursday … Carlos Ruiz (groin) missed his second straight game Thursday … Jonathan Sanchez (ankle) is scheduled to throw off flat ground Thursday … Jesus Flores hit his first home run since May 8, 2009 in Thursday's win over the Reds … Andres Torres (leg) began a minor league rehab assignment Thursday … Chris Heisey (oblique) won't be ready to return from the disabled list when he's eligible Sunday … Peter Moylan (back) is expected to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Monday … The Rockies released Mike Jacobs after he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for human growth hormone … The Astros released Nelson Figueroa … Brewers pitching prospect Wily Peralta is under consideration to start the second game of Monday's doubleheader against the Pirates …

AL Quick Hits: Joe Mauer played right field for the first time in his career Thursday … Denard Span was placed on the disabled list Thursday with lingering symptoms from his concussion in June … Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a stolen base in Thursday's win over the Royals … Ricky Romero struck out six in a complete-game three-hit shutout over the Athletics on Thursday night ... Brian Roberts had a checkup Thursday with concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins … Colby Rasmus went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in a win over Athletics on Thursday … Michael Cuddyer was given an epidural in his neck Thursday … Jason Kipnis (oblique) was a late scratch from Thursday's lineup due to a tight right hamstring … Jason Kubel missed Thursday's game due to a private family matter … A.J. Pierzynski (wrist) was cleared to begin light baseball activities Friday … Trevor Cahill was smoked for seven runs over 5 1/3 innings in Thursday's loss to the Blue Jays … Mitch Moreland was scratched from Thursday's lineup with tightness in his right hamstring … Mark Trumbo hit a walkoff two-run homer off Mike Adams in the bottom of the ninth in a 2-1 win over the Rangers on Thursday night … Phil Humber will be reevaluated Friday after exiting Thursday's start against the Indians in the second inning when he was struck above the right eye with a comebacker … Carlos Carrasco (elbow) is unlikely to return until September … The Angels optioned rookie right-hander Tyler Chatwood to Triple-A Salt Lake, paving the way for Jerome Williams to replace him in the starting rotation … Casper Wells is day-to-day after being hit in the nose by a Brandon Morrow fastball on Wednesday night … The Rays plan to activate John Jaso (oblique) from the disabled list before Friday's game … Alex Cobb underwent season-ending surgery Thursday to remove blockage from his rib cage … White Sox prospect outfielder Dayan Viciedo is day-to-day after suffering an injury to his right hand on Wednesday … Brandon Inge get at-bats against left-hander when he returns from the minor leagues in September … The Angels recalled catcher Hank Conger from Triple-A Salt Lake … The Indians released Austin KearnsJoba Chamberlain (Tommy John surgery) expects to begin a throwing program in a few weeks and aims to be ready to rejoin the Yankees in mid-April … Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson will get a second opinion on his ailing right elbow next week … Mariners prospect left-hander James Paxton will be shut down for the rest of the season due to back soreness and reaching his innings-limit …

D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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