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04/17/08 7:01 PM ET

Injured toe doesn't slow down Youkilis

Red Sox infielder remains in lineup one night after getting hurt

NEW YORK -- Kevin Youkilis has the favorable combination of recovering quick from injuries and having the willingness to play through pain. Both of those traits allowed the invaluable corner infielder to return to the lineup for Thursday night's game against the Yankees, just one day after he hammered a foul ball off of his left big toe.

With Mike Lowell already on the disabled list, the Red Sox could ill-afford to lose Youkilis, even for a minimal amount of time. Youkilis, who left Wednesday's game a couple of innings after striking the foul ball, will again take Lowell's fifth-spot in the batting order and at third base on Thursday.

"It was sore," said Youkilis. "But as long as I could put on a shoe and be able to stand on my toes, that's all that matters."

Youkilis said that the injury to Lowell did not necessarily speed up his recovery.

"I was going to play if I felt good," Youkilis said. "It's not painful when I walk. It's just sore. I've done it before. I broke a toe. I'll be fine."

Unbeknownst to just about anybody, Youkilis broke his toe during Spring Training of 2005 and was back playing again in a matter of days.

"It was off of Derek lowe in Vero Beach, [Fla.]," Youkilis said. "I was trying to make the team."

Those days are long over for Youkilis, who is now a vital member of the Boston lineup.

Before Thursday's game, a New York writer asked Red Sox manager Terry Francona how much the versatility of Youkilis helps the Red Sox.

"Like you can't believe," Francona said. "He wins a Gold Glove at first, he goes to third and he plays a Major League-caliber third base. You can hit him anywhere in the lineup. He works the count. He really has turned into a very good Major League player. It is appreciated.

"And you don't have to run and check with him every day. You just kind of throw his name in and he handles it. The one thing he really doesn't like doing is leading off. So he doesn't do that. Other than that, he just goes about his business."

Per usual, Youkilis is off to a fast start. He entered Thursday's game hitting .368 with 11 RBIs and a .433 on-base percentage. Youkilis is confident the injury won't impact his play.

"I'll play my normal game," said Youkilis. "I'll play hard and if I'm a step slower, I don't know. We'll see when we get out there. It's not anything on my mind. I'm just going to play the game."

When Youkilis woke up on Thursday, what was on his mind was playing. And he shared that with Francona.

"I called him and told him just to put me in the lineup or I'll be annoying him all game," Youkilis said.

Francona was happy to oblige.

"That was good news," Francona said. "You know if a guy has that good an outlook at 10 or 11 in the morning and he's laughing about it, he's probably feeling a little bit better than expected, so that was good. Real good. I was kind of apprehensive last night that he was going to wake up really feeling it."

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