Youkilis hopes to return if Sox reach playoffs

Youkilis hopes to return if Sox reach playoffs

BOSTON -- Though Kevin Youkilis underwent season-ending surgery on his right thumb on Aug. 6, the first baseman has not ruled out playing in the month of October.

Of course, for that to happen, the Red Sox would first have to qualify for the postseason. They entered Tuesday night's game against the Angels trailing the Yankees and Rays by 5 1/2 games in the American League East and the AL Wild Card standings.

Youkilis said that doctors didn't put the thought of a postseason return in his head.

"That's me," Youkilis said. "I hope I can come back and play. There's got to be a lot to happen. We've got to win to get in the playoffs and then, that's the greatest thing I'm hoping for, is for all these guys to do that and who knows. I might not be able to play at all, but I'm going to try to give myself the best chance to play in the playoffs if we make it."

One thing that makes it hard for Youkilis and the doctors to pinpoint exactly when he will be back is that there's no precedent for a baseball player tearing the adductor muscle in his thumb. Youkilis had his surgery performed by Dr. Thomas Graham at the Cleveland Clinic.

"I don't think anyone has had this, the [torn] adductor muscle," Youkilis said. "[Dr. Graham] said Shaquille O'Neal in the playoffs, he ripped the tendon off and the adductor muscle. Sometimes you'll do the tendon, but he's never seen it with just the adductor muscle. He's seen the muscle come off, but also the tendon usually tears, too. It's usually the tendon of the thumb and the muscle."

Though the lasting image of the injury is Youkilis shaking his thumb in pain during his at-bat against the Indians on Aug. 2, he said it started before that.

"It was on the West Coast trip [from July 19-28]," said Youkilis. "I forget what day or when it actually occurred. But it was over a good amount period, but it was definitely on the West Coast trip and when we came home."

At first, he didn't think it was all that significant.

"Oh, I mean, it just felt like a bruise," said Youkilis. "[I] felt like I bruised it, like hitting-wise, you get jammed a lot and do all that stuff. You see guys shake their hand because it hurts a little bit. It was like that. I don't know. It just didn't go away. Usually it goes away, sometimes you get it for a day or two, and a lot of times it goes away."

Youkilis will get his stitches removed shortly and transition into a softer cast. He will start with some hand exercises and go from there.

"It stinks, but it's one of those things where it happens. You hope you don't get hurt when you play baseball, but it's not a career-threatening injury, I don't think," said Youkilis. "The doctors are pretty excited that I can come back and play. We don't know the timetable, we have to see when the stitches come out and all that, but hopefully I can play in the playoffs."

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