Kevin Youkilis is hitting .319 with 18 RBIs in 18 games for the White Sox

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Kevin Youkilis’ return to Boston has so far consisted of four hits in two games, including a homer and two doubles, and the Red Sox castoff is now batting .319 with four homers, a .965 OPS, and 18 RBIs in 18 games since being traded to the White Sox.

It’s early, of course, but he’s basically performing like vintage Youkilis from 2008-2010, hitting for average and power while drawing walks and controlling the strike zone. And the White Sox are 12-6 with him in the lineup.

Meanwhile, rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks has hit .191 for Boston since the trade and the Red Sox have already designated for assignment Brent Lillibridge, who’s one of the two marginal players they received in dumping Youkilis.

Toss in David Ortiz potentially missing time with an Achilles’ tendon injury and the idea that Boston’s excessive third base/first base/designated hitter depth made trading Youkilis a must no matter how well he went on to hit and how little they got in return is looking a whole lot more difficult to justify.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.