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Youkilis out of WBC with ankle injury

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  March 18, 2009 09:10 PM

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Don't look now, but another Red Sox star has suffered an injury at the World Baseball Classic.

Kevin Youkilis will miss the remainder of the WBC with a mild left ankle sprain and mild Achilles tendinitis in his left foot, the Red Sox said tonight in a statement. The slugging first baseman left the team and returned to Fort Myers, Fla., where he was examined.

The Red Sox also said Youkilis's MRI results were negative and that he would wear a walking boot to limit movement in the area and allow it to heal. The team does not expect him to miss significant time.

According to the statement from the Red Sox, "Youkilis originally experienced some pain in his left ankle several days ago and it worsened in last night’s game vs. Team Puerto Rico. He will no longer participate in the World Baseball Classic and will return to Red Sox camp tomorrow.”

According to a report by ESPN.com's Amy K. Nelson, Team USA manager Davey Johnson said the injury happened three or four days ago, and that he noticed Youkilis was in pain during last night's 6-5 victory over Puerto Rico.

"He wasn't going to miss last night's game for the world," Johnson said.

Team USA reliever Brad Ziegler told Nelson that Youkilis could barely walk through the locker room after the game because of the pain.

Rules for replacing players leave the Americans hard-pressed to come up with a substitute for Youkilis, Johnson said.

"These things need to be addressed" in the future by WBC officials, Johnson said. "You just can't have this becoming a circus, playing guys out of position."

Adam Dunn was slated to play first base Wednesday night in Team USA's game against Venezuela to determine seedings for the semifinals. But the Washington Nationals would prefer Dunn remain in the outfield, Johnson said. Utilityman Mark DeRosa is on the roster, but the Cleveland Indians don't want him playing first, Johnson said.

The only first baseman on the list of potential roster replacements is Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs, who has been hampered by a sore thigh.

Youkilis, who won the Henry Aaron Award as the top hitter in the American League last season, is the second prominent Red Sox player to pull out of the WBC with an injury.

He follows second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who suffered a muscle strain in his abdomen March 13 and returned to the Red Sox.

Pedroia's injury turned out to be minor, and the reigning AL Most Valuable Player is aiming to return to the Red Sox lineup Saturday when they play the Marlins.

Youkilis is just the latest member of Team USA to suffer an injury. Pedroia, third baseman Chipper Jones, and reliever Matt Lindstrom previously were sidelined for the rest of the tournament, and outfielder Ryan Braun has remained with the team despite tightness in his rib cage.

The news of Youkilis's injury was first reported by FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this update.

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