Youk starts throwing, but not cleared to swing

Youk starts throwing, but not cleared to swing

BOSTON -- Third baseman Kevin Youkilis resumed baseball activities on Thursday as he continues to improve from a lower back strain.

Youkilis, who has not played since April 28 vs. the White Sox, played catch before Thursday's game against Cleveland.

Youkilis is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list Monday, when Boston opens a two-game series against Seattle. That might be a stretch, though, considering he is not ready to swing a bat.

"Talking to him yesterday, it seemed like he could swing, but they're delaying it a little," said manager Bobby Valentine.

The Red Sox have gotten production from third base during Youkilis' absence. Top prospect Will Middlebrooks has 10 hits in seven games since his Major League debut on May 2.

Middlebrooks is batting .323 with three home runs and nine RBIs entering Thursday's game.