Kevin Youkilis starts off hitting second for White Sox

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White Sox No. 2 hitters have batted a pathetic .215/.265/.323 this season. He won’t have to be the old Kevin Youkilis to improve on that.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura will ask Youkilis to help set the table for Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko following his acquisition from the Red Sox on Sunday. Here’s the lineup for tonight’s game against the Twins:

CF Alejandro De Aza
3B Youkilis
DH Dunn
1B Konerko
RF Alex Rios
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Dayan Viciedo
SS Alexei Ramirez
2B Gordon Beckham

Beckham had been hitting second for the White Sox of late and doing a pretty decent job of it. While his OBP there was just .315, he was hitting .265 with seven homers and 25 RBI in 44 starts. The other three guys to start there this season had been horrible:

Brent Morel: .140/.196/.163 in 43 AB
Alexei Ramirez: .143/.160/.224 in 49 AB
Brent Lillibridge: .050/.130/.050 in 20 AB

On paper at least, this looks like a big improvement. The White Sox have five players slugging better than .450 this season, and their biggest hole has now been covered over by a former All-Star. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what he has left.

Marlins option Tom Koehler to Triple-A, recall Hunter Cervenka

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Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.

Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.

Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.

Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are interested in Pat Neshek

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At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.

Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.