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.

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.