Youkilis back in Sox's lineup Monday
Drew not ready for game action; Lowell's hip feeling good
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With each day, the Red Sox seem to get a little healthier. First baseman Kevin Youkilis will be the latest player to return to the lineup, when he starts Monday's game against the Tigers.
Just like Dustin Pedroia, Youkilis was forced out of the World Baseball Classic with an injury. The other similarity is that the ailment didn't linger.
Pedroia was back from his left abdominal strain Friday, and he played again Sunday, belting two hits.
Youkilis had a mild sprain of his left ankle, and also mild Achilles tendinitis on that same foot. But in the past couple of days, he has done all baseball activities without the protective boot he had been wearing.
"Youk will probably get a couple of at-bats [Monday]," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "The thing we're staying away from, is the 3 1/2-hour game, it just wasn't doing him any good right now. That's just the way it is. We're not trying to drag a guy out of the [Classic], but for him to get a couple of at-bats and maybe play two or three days is probably just what he needs to get ready."
Right fielder J.D. Drew, who suffered a contusion of his right hand after being belted by a fastball on Friday, isn't quite ready to get back in a game. But he could play Wednesday in Sarasota, Fla.
While third baseman Mike Lowell, who underwent right hip surgery in October, made his return to the lineup March 10, Monday will mark the first time he's played on back-to-back days.
The right-handed-hitting third baseman certainly looked healthy enough Sunday, belting a two-run homer, his second of Spring Training. Perhaps the only thing Lowell needs to do is perfect his home run trot to lessen the barbs from the bench.
"Kind of the joke around here is that he's Kirk Gibson when he's running around the bases -- one of those deals," said Red Sox ace Josh Beckett.
Lowell's rebuttal to Beckett, his longtime teammate?
"I'm still faster than him," Lowell said.
Gibson or Beckett?
"Both," said Lowell.
All kidding aside, running prowess is never going to be a big part of Lowell's game. The main thing is that his hip feels better each day.
"I've been waking up good," Lowell said. "I don't feel stiff. Going through the same routine, stretching and getting warmed up and doing all the exercises, it's been working out really well. I think we're taking it more slowly just because we can. I think all things are pretty good so far."
"He's swinging the bat really well," Francona said. "And actually, he didn't forget how to field the ball, either. It's amazing how he just takes that little drop step and turns a tough hop into a double play. That's good to see."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.