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Black-eyed Youk back in lineup

Black-eyed Youk back in lineup

BOSTON -- How was Kevin Youkilis doing less than 48 hours after an errant warmup throw by Mike Lowell gave him a shiner under his right eye?

"I'm playing today, guys," Youkilis told reporters before Wednesday's game. "No worries."

In fact, the right-handed hitter had sent manager Terry Francona a similar text message in the morning.

"He wrote me this morning and said, 'Hey, I'm ready to go.' That was good news," said Francona. "He just looked like he got beat up."

The first baseman was out of the lineup on Tuesday, though he was able to come on for defense in the ninth inning of Boston's 5-4 victory.

In the top of the first inning on Wednesday, Youkilis wore protective sunglasses while playing first base, though he didn't wear them at the plate.

It was good news from a timing standpoint that Youkilis could return to the lineup against Diamondbacks lefty Randy Johnson. As it was, the Red Sox were without their hottest hitter, right fielder J.D. Drew.

With the unusually tough lefty-lefty matchup and a day off for the Red Sox on Thursday, Francona thought the timing was perfect to get Drew -- 1-for-8 lifetime against Johnson -- a day off.

"I thought it was the right thing to do," Francona said. "I think the two days will be huge for him."

In other lineup news, Francona hopes to get Manny Ramirez back in left field on Friday night in Houston when the Red Sox lose the designated hitter for the weekend. Ramirez has been nursing a sore right hamstring and has started just three games in left field -- all in National League parks -- in June.

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

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