Chances of Youkilis returning grow dimmer

Chances of Youkilis returning grow dimmer

BALTIMORE -- It is looking less likely by the day that Kevin Youkilis will be able to play for the Red Sox again in 2011.

With three games left in the regular season, Youkilis doesn't appear any closer to being able to return to action than he was a week ago. One thing is clear: It isn't for a lack of effort.

The All-Star third baseman has a painful sports hernia injury that will require surgery once the season is over.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona was asked if there was a chance Youkilis would play in the final three games of the regular season.

"I don't think so," Francona said. "I think Youk, he's trying so hard. He's pretty sore. He did a little light running yesterday. He's pretty sore. I don't think we've pulled the plug. I think being realistic though, we're probably fighting an uphill battle."

Jed Lowrie and Mike Aviles have been splitting the playing time at third base with Youkilis out of the mix. Lowrie started Monday night against the Orioles at Camden Yards.