Kevin Youkilis missed his fifth straight game yesterday with a back injury that was initially only expected to cost him a day or two.
Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that Youkilis tried to take batting practice before last night’s game, but his lower back was too stiff. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Hoch that Youkilis could be placed on the disabled list if he’s not ready to play Saturday, but added that “we believe that he’s going to be back within 15 days.”
Youkilis was off to a good start before the back problems flared up, hitting .279 with a .796 OPS in 16 games, but he had an uncharacteristically bad 17/3 K/BB ratio. Youkilis has missed at least 40 games in each the past three seasons and hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2008.
Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.
The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.
The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.