Middlebrooks DH as Ortiz gets day off

June, 24, 2012
BOSTON -- With Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks at the center of drama the last few days, Bobby Valentine found a way to get both of them in the lineup Sunday.

Middlebrooks is hitting third and serving as the designated hitter, with David Ortiz getting the day off.

Youkilis, who sat for three straight days in favor of the scorching Middlebrooks, returned to the lineup a day after he complained that he was in kept in the dark as to his playing situation, and as trade rumors swirled strongly.

Valentine said that the insertion of Youkilis into the lineup means nothing one way or another in terms of a potential trade.

“I don't think so. It’s not directly related to anything, other than trying to win a ballgame and keep him as sharp as possible,” Valentine said, adding that he wants Youkilis to get his legs moving and to give Middlebrooks a day to rest his legs a bit.

Middlebrooks will be the first player other than Ortiz to serve as the DH at home in 2012. Ortiz had started the first 38 games at Fenway Park but was showing signs that a day of rest was in order; he had been 0-for-11 in his last three games.

Valentine said that he saw Ortiz going out of the strike zone more in the past few days. After initial resistance from the slugger, Ortiz agreed that a day off could help, according to the manager.

Meanwhile, another member of the heart of the order, Adrian Gonzalez, carries a modest four-game hitting streak (5-for-17, two walks) into Sunday. It happens to coincide with his return to first base after a month of playing mostly right field. Does the tiny uptick in production mean anything?

“It’s hard to draw any kind of cause-and-effect things,” Valentine said. “It’s almost like saying Dustin (Pedroia) shaved so he is hitting better. Adrian is going to get hot, whether he is DH-ing, playing center field, right field, first base, he’s going to get hot, I think.”

This marks the first time Gonzalez has started five straight games at first base since May 14-18. His batting average has fallen 14 points and his OPS 63 points ever since the end of that stretch.



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