Trade talks involving Kevin Youkilis are picking up


According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of, trade talks regarding Kevin Youkilis have “intensified” over the past 24 to 48 hours.

While a deal isn’t considered imminent, one high-ranking official with a National League club said that the veteran third baseman is “being shopped everywhere.” The report names the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Dodgers, Indians and Pirates among the teams who have expressed interest.

Youkilis is only hitting .215/.301/.341 with four home runs, 13 RBI and a .641 OPS through 39 games this season, including his current 1-for-21 (.048) stretch, so the Red Sox certainly aren’t selling high here. With that in mind, they have told teams that they are willing to include cash in order to get a better player in return. The 33-year-old is still owed roughly half of his $12 million salary for this season while his $13 million option for 2013 carries a $1 million buyout.

If Youkilis is moved, rookie Will Middlebrooks would take over the starting third base job in Boston.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.