Middlebrooks may stay when Youk returns

Middlebrooks may stay when Youk returns

Middlebrooks may stay when Youk returns
BALTIMORE -- Third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who played in his final Minor League rehab game on Monday night, should be activated Tuesday as long as he gets clearance from the doctors.

However, in light of recent developments, highly-touted prospect Will Middlebrooks, who has filled in admirably during the absence of Youkilis, might also stay on the roster.

The Red Sox learned before Monday's game that outfielder Cody Ross will be out for several weeks as he recovers from a fractured navicular bone in his left foot.

There's at least a chance the Red Sox could get creative with both Youkilis and Middlebrooks on the team, perhaps playing Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield at times.

That would open up first base for either David Ortiz or Youkilis, with the other player being deployed as the DH.

"We have talked about it," said general manager Ben Cherington. "We lost a good right-handed hitter today for a while, so it's hard to lose more right-handed hitters. It's a consideration in light of that. We're still talking about it. We'll see how it would work."

There are a lot of things to balance out. Obviously, Boston would have its best possible offense with Youkilis and Middlebrooks both in the mix. But are they sacrificing too much on defense and asking too much out of Gonzalez?

"At a time like this, it's important to slow things down and try to make decisions for the right reason," Cherington said. "We want to do what's best for the team, certainly, but also what's best for the players. It is something we've discussed and talked about what it would be like if we did. At a time when you have a lot of injuries at one spot, sometimes you might have to come up with solutions that you might not have thought of two months ago. We're talking about all sorts of things."

Gonzalez held his own playing right field in Philadelphia over the weekend.

"Yeah, I think Bobby's got a good feel for what Adrian can do," Cherington said. "I think Adrian is comfortable out there. He sees the ball off the bat well. I think Bobby has a good feel for how much he can do that and how to be safe for him and safe for the team."

Asking Gonzalez to play right field in Fenway Park could be a little much.

"Fenway is a little bit more of a challenge, because of the space out there," Cherington said. "Some of the ballparks we play in on the road, there's a little less ground to cover. Maybe that becomes an option. It's not something that we want to do a lot long term. In the short term, perhaps every once in a while within Adrian's comfort level."

The other plus of having Youkilis and Middlebrooks on the roster at the same time is that the former could be eased back in rather than playing a bunch of games without a day off.

"We've got to listen to him and see how he responds," Cherington said. "He's had a couple days off during the short rehab assignment he's been on. He's playing tonight. Kind of see how he does, see how he responds every day. He's obviously been an everyday player throughout his career, so he's used to doing that. He's gone through some things. Bobby will be careful, I'm sure, and if giving him a day here and there helps him, then that's something we can do."