Kevin Youkilis’ minor-league rehab assignment will start tomorrow at Triple-A, according to Joseph McDonald of ESPN Boston.
Youkilis, who’s been out since April 27 with a back injury and struggled before being shut down, is scheduled to be in Pawtucket’s lineup at designated hitter and get three at-bats.
Barring a setback he’ll then play defense Thursday, presumably at third base, and potentially be cleared to come off the disabled list as soon as Friday. Of course, with fill-in Will Middlebrooks seemingly playing far too well for the Red Sox to send him back to Triple-A right now it’s unclear where Youkilis fits in the team’s immediate plans anyway.
Middlebrooks has hit .304 with four homers and a 1.021 OPS in 11 games since debuting on May 2, whereas Youkilis has hit just .205 with 52 strikeouts in 55 games since last season’s All-Star break.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.