Efforts stepped up to trade Youkilis
The sooner the Red Sox can get back to a set lineup - one that doesn’t include juggling Adrian Gonzalez between first base and right field and Kevin Youkilis between first and third - the better.
That’s why the Sox have stepped up their efforts to deal Youkilis.
Other teams are waiting to see the Youkilis of old, and lately there are signs that he is getting to that point. He is hitting the ball harder and working counts better. He went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk in Wednesday night’s 15-5 win over the Marlins.
The Sox will have to assume most of the remaining $12 million on Youkilis’s contract and the $1 million buyout of his option, and then there is the question of what they can get for him.
They could make a straight salary dump and not get anything for him, but he is a homegrown product they developed into an All-Star and a Gold Glove first baseman, so they want something in return.
These are the teams in play for Youkilis at the moment:
■Dodgers: They need a productive corner infielder, and Youkilis has always been a favorite of manager Don Mattingly, who admires his plate discipline. The Dodgers have been scouting Youkilis at Fenway this week. A reported deal for James Loney would not be Boston’s cup of tea.
■Indians: Like many teams, they could use a righthanded bat at a corner, and are very much involved in talks with the Red Sox.
■Pirates: They need to bolster their offense, because they feel their pitching is good enough to win the NL Central. Getting Youkilis would add a very disciplined hitter to that lineup.
■Diamondbacks: They have had interest in Youkilis for some time, but they declined when the Red Sox asked for outfielder Gerardo Parra. The talks do not appear to be dead, according to a major league source.
■White Sox: They could use a third baseman, but with John Danks going down with an injury, they are more likely to pursue pitching help.
■Phillies. The Philadelphia people deny they are looking at Youkilis, but they had two scouts at Fenway. The Phillies are still awaiting the return of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
Pedroia: ‘I’m all right’
Dustin Pedroia, who hurt his thumb again Tuesday night, deemed himself ready to play but was held out of the lineup.
“I’m all right,’’ he said. “I think it scared me more than anything because my hand slipped off the bat and my thumb got caught. It was just kind of a weird feeling.
“I’m not playing today. I’ll be in here tomorrow. I feel fine.’’
Does he feel pain?
“No,’’ he said. “It just kind of freaked me out more than anything.
“There’s no swelling or anything like that. It’s kind of a weird deal. I went to swing and I don’t know if it got a little hot or humid, I didn’t have enough pine tar on my bat, so my thumb just got caught in a weird spot.
“Bobby [Valentine] talked to me and said, ‘I think it’s smart if you take a day and do some treatment and go out here.’ And I’m available if needed, so whatever the team needs.’’
Top pick signs
Scott Boras was in Boston Wednesday as one of his clients, Red Sox No. 1 pick Deven Marrero, signed with Boston.
As for another client, Jacoby Ellsbury, Boras said, “We’re going to discuss his contract in the offseason.’’
Asked whether the deals signed by Baltimore’s Adam Jones and the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier (both five years, $85 million) would have an impact on the Ellsbury talks, Boras said, “I think the signings of players who are not free agents is a very subjective market for the reasons they may sign or what they may do.
“They’re all over the map. They’re almost not statistically based. It’s what a player and club agree upon. That’s why the signings that are more relevant and more consistently value-based are free agent signings. That’s why the market for a player prior to that time is tough to calculate for everybody.’’
Concerning Ellsbury’s timetable to return to the lineup after his shoulder injury back on April 14, Boras said, “I’ve talked to Jacoby every few days and we’re in communication. He took live BP yesterday and we’re getting there.’’
As for Marrero, the Arizona State shortstop was the 24th overall pick and received a $2.05 million signing bonus.
“Deven is a guy that is one of the best defensive shortstops to come out of college in a long time,’’ said Boras.
Bard blows save
Daniel Bard allowed two hits, two runs, and threw two wild pitches in 1 1/3 innings as he blew a save in Triple A Pawtucket’s 6-5 loss in 11 innings at Syracuse. Bard’s second wild pitch allowed the tying run to score in the ninth inning. Bard has an 8.31 ERA in 8 2/3 innings with the PawSox. He has 10 strikeouts with two walks and has hit two batters . . . Daniel Nava went 4 for 5 as the leadoff man, scoring two runs, to raise his average to .333. “The hand is feeling really good,’’ Nava said. “It’s felt good for a couple days, we’ve just been making sure that it’s progressing in the right direction. You don’t want to push it too quick and then send it a couple days backwards. So I think that’s the thinking we had in the whole situation.’’ . . . On batting leadoff, Nava said, “It’s not that much different just because my approach is generally the same. You work the count, get the pitch that I want, and then if I get to two strikes I still try to put a good swing on a ball. So nothing really changes except that when you’re the leadoff guy the first time you’re actually a true leadoff batter. So I think that’s the only time it changes because I do try and see more pitches.’’ . . . When asked what the grand slam meant to him, David Ortiz said, “No more than all the other ones, to be totally honest. I don’t set different games in higher esteem or whatever because it’s baseball and we have a lot of games left.’’ . . . Boras is upset about the new draft rules that limit what teams can spend. “It’s unfortunate that it’s turned into a mockery,’’ he said. “Teams are telling their scouting departments that they have to choose players that will sign for a nominal amount of money using their 6-10 picks so they can sign their top picks. The minute we start doing that, we are, in effect, we’re saying to scouting, your job with that sixth-round pick is really the 20th- or 25th- round pick.’’