Kevin Youkilis won’t play tonight against the Rays

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Kevin Youkilis still intends to play through a sports hernia which will require offseason surgery, but it’s clear the Red Sox won’t be able to rely on him down the stretch.

Youkilis was pulled from last night’s loss to the Rays after six innings and Red Sox manager Terry Francona told Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com that he will at least sit out Friday’s game.

“He’s sore and he’s not going to play tomorrow,” Francona said. “Actually talked to him before the game a little bit and had a good talk with him. We’ll watch him. He’s nowhere near pulling the plug on the season, or anything like that. But it’s pretty obvious he’s struggling out there.”

Youkilis is 1-for-9 since returning to the lineup earlier this week and is just 6-for-36 (.167) with zero homers and an 11/5 K/BB ratio this month. The 32-year-old is currently batting a career-low .258 on the season.

Jed Lowrie is also unavailable due to a nagging injury to his left shoulder, so Mike Aviles will likely make the start at third base tonight.