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Valentine knows lineup is 'a moving target'

Valentine knows lineup is 'a moving target'

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Valentine knows lineup is 'a moving target'
CHICAGO -- On Friday afternoon, outfielder Daniel Nava was out of Boston's starting lineup for a fifth straight game as he recovers from soreness in his left hand. However, the good news is that Kevin Youkilis was back in action after being plunked under the left ribs by a pitch on Tuesday night against the Marlins.

"Yeah, I saw him in the lobby yesterday and he was feeling good," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said of Youkilis.

Nava did pinch-hit in the ninth inning of Boston's 3-0 loss to the Cubs on Friday, striking out against Carlos Marmol. Valentine hopes Nava might return to the starting lineup by Saturday.

Youkilis started at third base, while David Ortiz played first and Adrian Gonzalez started in right field for the 16th time. Will Middlebrooks was the odd man out.

With so many players in and out of the lineup, Valentine appreciates the willingness of veterans to move around and even play out of position.

"It's not very versatile, but the guys have made it more versatile," Valentine said. "I wouldn't say that it's necessarily roster versatility -- it's a couple of individuals who are going a little beyond the call of duty to give us the best chance of winning. I think it's real important to have individuals who are willing to do the right thing and help the team win."

Valentine admits that it's been hard for the Red Sox -- who entered Friday with a 31-32 record -- to have a clear identity, given all of the lineup and roster flux.

"I don't know that a team necessarily has a personality, but I don't think this team has totally figured out what they are because there have been so many changing parts," Valentine said. "I don't know how they're looking at themselves. It must be a moving target."

Then again, adapting to the moving target is personality-forming, in a way.

"To their credit, we've learned to deal with it," Valentine said. "Sometimes guys start making excuses and using that as a crutch. I haven't heard any of that. It's more like what we were referring to earlier. It's part of the group's mentality and personality, whatever it is. They overcome stuff."

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