Kevin Youkilis exits early Thursday, but expects to play Friday

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Kevin Youkilis put a little fright into Red Sox Nation* on Thursday night when he made an eighth-inning exit from the club’s 6-2 victory over the Orioles.

It turns out he’s going to be just fine.

According to the great Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Youk** told reporters after the game that he only jammed his hip and expects to play in Friday’s series opener against the visiting Mariners. He initially got banged up in the first inning Thursday while trying to break up a double play and thought it wise to make a precautionary early exit.

“I just slid and it got a little locked up,” the third baseman said late Thursday. “As the game went on, it locked up a little bit more, but I should be good to play [Friday]. It was bugging me, and Tito said, ‘Give it a rest so you can play tomorrow.’ “

Youkilis, 32, is sporting a team-best .869 OPS through 94 plate appearances this season. If the Red Sox want to play it safe, they can start Jed Lowrie at the hot corner Friday and Marco Scutaro at shortstop.

*A dumb and unoriginal nickname
**A dumb and unoriginal nickname