05/18/09 11:15 PM ET
Youkilis plays first base in Triple-A start
Veteran expects to be back with Red Sox on Wednesday
By Maureen Mullen / MLB.com
"It's not a fun thing to sit there and watch games," the Red Sox first baseman said before his first rehab game, Monday night with Triple-A Pawtucket facing the Buffalo Bisons. "I don't think I could sit through a whole game. It's not as fun as playing."
Originally scheduled to serve as the designated hitter Monday night, Youkilis told PawSox manager Ron Johnson he preferred playing the field. After a quick call to Sox head athletic trainer Paul Lessard, Youkilis was inserted into the lineup at first base.
Leading off for the home team at McCoy Stadium, Youkilis went 0-for-2.
In the first, he had a five-pitch at-bat, grounding out to third baseman Mike Lamb. Leading off in the third, he struck out on four pitches. In his final at-bat, he walked on four pitches.
"I felt good," he said. "Just a little rusty, just baseball and all that. But I felt good and excited just to be on the field again. It was good to get out there, and play a little bit, get at-bats, see the ball from the pitcher. It was good to have a guy [Buffalo starter Fernando Nieve] who had a little velocity, too, just to see that. Felt good, just, hopefully, [Tuesday] I can get some more at-bats and each day hopefully get comfortable each day playing."
His first real defensive test of the game came in the third inning, stretching to his left to field second baseman Travis Denker's throw on Jesus Feliciano's grounder.
"That just tweaked me a little bit, my whole entire body," he said. "It was just a funky throw to reach out real quick, but that's how it always happens.
"But, after that it went away. It wasn't something that lingered."
"I thought he moved around well," Johnson said. "He looked fine, made a really nice catch on that ball Denker threw. He hit that ball hard to third, got his walk, and he felt fine when he left. So, that's good stuff."
Youkilis was leading the American League in batting with a .393 average when he left the May 4 game at Yankee Stadium after the sixth inning with back stiffness. He was placed on the disabled list on May 12 (retroactive to May 5) with a left oblique strain.
In his absence the Sox have gone 7-6, including their just-concluded 2-4 West Coast trip, where they posted identical 1-2 records in Anaheim and Seattle. It's much easier to watch when his team is winning, Youkilis said.
"We were doing well there, and then the West Coast trip we didn't fare as well," he said. "It was tough watching the games when we lose just because it's frustrating because you want to help and do something. Just cheering your guys on is not going to get a win, as much as I was trying. But, it didn't really work out a couple of times."
Youkilis, who will serve as the DH for the 12:05 p.m. game Tuesday in the series finale against Buffalo, is optimistic he will be back in the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday, when he is eligible to come off the DL, as the Red Sox host the Blue Jays.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.