Notes: Youkilis corners new position

Notes: Youkilis corners new position

OAKLAND -- The lineup adjustment that was originally supposed to be made six nights ago at Fenway Park finally took place Monday night in Oakland, as Kevin Youkilis made his first career start at first base and Kevin Millar got his first game of rest this season.

The original plan was that Millar would sit on May 10 against the A's. But after hitting his first homer of the season in the previous game, he asked manager Terry Francona to postpone his day off until the road trip. That wound up being a fortuitous suggestion by Millar, as he hit a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth off Octavio Dotel in that May 10 game.

"I hit the home run the night before and I said, 'Not right now.' That turned out to be a nice decision," Millar said.

At any rate, Youkilis was glad to make his first start since May 8. A third baseman by trade, Youkilis began working out at first base in Spring Training, and made several appearances at the position during the exhibition season.

"Definitely, I feel comfortable over there," said Youkilis, who entered the game with a .391 average in 23 at-bats. "It's just getting used to covering the base. Fielding the ball, it's a little easier. At third base, if you don't field it cleanly, you're in trouble. The big thing is on double play balls, it's a lot different. Make sure you get the out. They say it's probably the hardest double play to turn in baseball. The pitcher has to cover, the throw has to be perfect."

When Mark Bellhorn became ill at the end of April, Youkilis was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket and caught fire on the road trip through Texas and Detroit, producing six hits in 13 at-bats.

Before Monday, Millar was the only Boston player to start every game. However, he didn't seem to mind the break.

"Sometimes, as a player, it's nice to have a day off," said Millar, "get a day to just watch a game, to work on what you're working on and just kind of watch the game and be ready, just be ready in the fifth, sixth, seventh inning. Hopefully we blow them out and I can just kind of check it out."

Francona also might start Youkilis at third base in Wednesday afternoon's game.

Boomer clears another hurdle: Though the Sox had no official announcement, all signs were pointing toward left-hander David Wells making his return from the disabled list and pitching against the A's on Wednesday afternoon.

Wells threw only an abbreviated bullpen session Monday, lending credence to the theory that he'll pitch for real on Wednesday. Out since April 26 with a sprained right foot, Wells threw 64 pitches in a simulated game on Friday at Safeco Field.

Despite the lack of a Minor League rehab start, Wells sees no reason to think he'll need to be confined with his pitch count.

"I don't see why I couldn't throw 100," Wells said. "Usually I throw about 50 pitches in the bullpen anyway. You never know until you go out there."

Barring something unforeseen, Wells will go out there on Wednesday.

   Trot Nixon  /   RF
Born: 04/11/74
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

Nixon banged up: Prior to Sunday's game against the Mariners, Francona acknowledged that right fielder Trot Nixon was banged up, but didn't elaborate on his condition.

Nixon told the Boston Herald in Monday's edition that an undisclosed leg injury will require him to have surgery after the season. Nixon apparently suffered the injury while making a leaping catch on May 8 against the Mariners.

Though the ailment might be hampering Nixon's ability to run, it isn't slowing his bat. The left-handed hitter went 7-for-11 in the weekend series at Seattle, including a grand slam. He roped a single in his first at-bat Monday night.

Before the game, Nixon declined the chance to elaborate with reporters on his injury.

Francona didn't seem too preoccupied by it.

"If somebody needs three innings off, if somebody needs a day off, it's no different for Trot than anybody else," said Francona. "We communicate with all these guys. We just try to do the right thing for the player and the organization."

Arroyo will likely drop appeal: Bronson Arroyo is expected to announce Tuesday that he'll drop his appeal and begin serving his six-game suspension.

That would line Arroyo up to return to the Red Sox for a start on May 25 at Toronto. The Sox are off on Thursday and are playing in an exhibition on Monday (the Hall of Fame Game), so this span of six games is the perfect time for Arroyo to serve his suspension. The Sox will be able to get by with a four-man rotation during that time and still have everyone pitch on regular rest.

On deck: Matt Clement (4-0, 3.06 ERA) will try to beat the A's for the second time in less than a week when he pitches Tuesday night at McAfee Coliseum in the second game of the three-game series. The A's counter with lefty Barry Zito (1-4, 5.54 ERA).

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.