Youkilis glad to be back in Sox lineup

Youkilis glad to be back in lineup

BOSTON -- Hitting probably isn't as easy as Kevin Youkilis can make it look. The first baseman and cleanup hitter for the Red Sox returned from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday night and promptly went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .404.

This, after being sidelined with a left oblique strain.

"It looked like he was struggling to get back into the swing of things," dead-panned Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's a good hitter. He's just a good hitter."

Youkilis played two rehab games for Triple-A Pawtucket, going hitless in six at-bats. But once it started counting, he picked up right where he left off in the Sox's 8-3 win over the Blue Jays.

"It was good to get back and win a ballgame and feel good out there and come out with a win," Youkilis said. "That's the best thing is feeling good and getting a 'W.' I just went up there and tried to get my timing down. I felt good and had good success today."

Youkilis was relieved to be finished with spectator status.

"It's frustrating not being able to play," Youkilis said. "Watching baseball is not something I like to do. I like playing the game. I don't like being a spectator as much. It was definitely real boring just sitting back not being able to do anything."

Though the Red Sox were a respectable 7-6 in the time Youkilis missed, his loss was definitely felt.

"He's our cleanup hitter," said Francona. "He's a Gold Glove first baseman. That's a lot. He's right smack in the middle of that batting order. He grinds out at-bats. There's a lot to miss. It will be nice to have him back."

To make room for Youkilis on the roster, the Red Sox optioned infielder Gil Velazquez to Pawtucket.

Another player nearing a return from the disabled list is backup first baseman/outfielder Mark Kotsay. After projecting a May 1 return following back surgery, Kotsay injured his right calf muscle during his Minor League rehab.

Francona said that Kotsay is finally getting over that injury, and if all goes well, he will re-start his rehab with Pawtucket on Friday.

"They're home over the weekend in Pawtucket, and then they go to Louisville and Indy -- two good ballparks," Francona said. "Travel is minimal. That would be a real good setup for him. We're getting real close. He had a good day."

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