CHICAGO, IL: Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox connects on a grand slam scoring teammates David Ortiz #34, Adrian Gonzalez #28 and Ryan Sweeney #12 during the third inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
With the way Will Middlebrooks has been playing, it's no surprise that fans would wonder what's going to happen with him and Kevin Youkilis once Youk is back from the disabled list. Wonder no more, as general manager Ben Cherington has stated that Youk will have his job at third base back once he returns from the DL.
There's no word yet on what this means for Middlebrooks -- is he going to shift to the outfield temporarily, as has been bandied about , go back to Pawtucket? But, stop and consider for a moment that the result of this move, no matter what, will likely end with the Red Sox getting production at the hot corner.
Scenario One: Youkilis comes back and hits well, and although he's limited defensively, he, at the least, gives the Red Sox the offensive force they've been missing when he's been in the lineup the rest of 2012.
Scenario Two: Youkilis returns and continues to struggle, continuing to look slow and old on both sides of the ball. Middlebrooks, who was sent back to Triple-A, returns to claim the position earlier than the original 2013 time frame.
The latter situation takes more time to unfold, but, and this is important, remember that Youkilis was one of the game's most productive hitters when he was healthy. If they can capture that again -- whether to ride out the season with him at third, or to build his trade value before bringing Middlebrooks back -- it's worth the short-term risk of being wrong. Gordon Edes goes so far to say that a Youkilis trade is inevitable, and if the situation merits it, it very well might be.
Speaking of Middlebrooks, he left Tuesday night's contest with a re-aggravation of his hamstring issue. Tightness was an issue for him last Saturday as well, and the Red Sox didn't want to take any chances with it.
Before exiting, though, Middlebrooks joined Enos Slaughter as the only other batter of the live-ball era to start his first five games with an extra-base hit. Sox fans who know their history will cringe at his name, but that's not bad company for Middlebrooks to find himself in.
In non-Middlebrooks news, three Greenville pitchers combined for the first no-hitter in the team's history on Tuesday. Miguel Pena, the starter, went six innings, striking out seven hitters without allowing a walk. In fact, there was just one walk on the day, and it came from Pena's first wave of relief, Hunter Cervenka. Tyler Lockwood closed things out with two strikeouts in the ninth.
Josh Hamilton became the 16th hitter in history to hit four homers in a single game, while simultaneously setting the American League record for total bases in a game. The four homers had been done before, but no AL hitter had every tossed another hit into the mix. Hamilton, on the other hand, smacked a double that just missed being the first homer #4 of the day.
The Rays love their shifts, and the New York Times says that those defensive alignments save the Rays a lot of runs. In fact, probably more runs than is realistic. That's what happens when you dig into the math, anyway, as members of Tango and Co.'s Book Blog did.
Is Albert Pujols already a lesser player, now that he's 32? Red Sox fans, having gone through the slow starts of David Ortiz, know better than to give up on him. But others might need a reminder, and that's what Matt Welch is here to give.