Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Kevin Youkilis, on the disabled list with a lower back strain since May 2, would make a rehab start as the designated hitter for Triple A Pawtucket Wednesday in Durham, N.C.
“We’re trying to get him at least three at-bats [Wednesday] as a DH,’’ Valentine said before Tuesday afternoon’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. “He looked really good taking ground balls today, moving around, a bounce in his step.
“So he’ll start tomorrow,’’ Valentine said, “and we’ll get him enough [work], whatever it’s going to have him say that he feels good.’’
Once Youkilis makes that determination, the Red Sox will face a bit of a dilemma in deciding what to do with rookie phenom Will Middlebrooks, considered the third baseman of the future, who has hit .304 since his call-up from Triple A Pawtucket May 2, Middlebrooks has hit safely in nine of his first 10 Major League starts and tied for the AL rookie lead with five doubles and third with four homers and 13 RBI.
For now, though, the plan is to have Middlebrooks hold down the third base position while Youkilis continues to rehab.
“He’ll go from DH to playing in the field, and seeing some pitches,’’ Valentine said of Youkilis.
In other pregame matters:
* Felix Doubront gave the team a bit of a scare during pregame warmups when he was struck on the head by a fungo fly ball while he was playing catch in the outfield. Doubront said he was OK after getting hit on the back of his right ear.
“Whenever anybody comes off the field, you hold your breath,’’ Valentine said. “But he tested fine, he knows where he is, he knows where he’s going ... I think it just hit his ear and he’s going to be just fine’’
* With an upcoming three-game interleague set looming in Philadelphia, the Sox began making preparations in earnest, with David Ortiz taking grounders at first and Adrian Gonzalez shagging flies in right field. “I think David could play first base,’’ Valentine said. “And Adrian looks all right in the outfield, too. But I think David could play first base .. so does Dustin [Pedroia], so does Adrian, and so does David, and that’s what’s more important.’’
Valentine indicated the pitching staff had been taking swings in the batting cage in preparation for interleague play. “Dave [Magadan] and Bob [McClure] worked out a program in the cage, so it was a progression of soft toss to tee to BP in the cage to BP outside.’’