The sooner the Red Sox can get back to a set lineup - one that doesn’t include juggling Adrian Gonzalez between first base and right field and Kevin Youkilis between first and third - the better.
That’s why the Sox have stepped up their efforts to deal Youkilis.
Other teams are waiting to see the Youkilis of old, and lately there are signs that he is getting to that point. He is hitting the ball harder and working counts better. He went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk in Wednesday night’s 15-5 win over the Marlins.
The Sox will have to assume most of the remaining $12 million on Youkilis’s contract and the $1 million buyout of his option, and then there is the question of what they can get for him.
They could make a straight salary dump and not get anything for him, but he is a homegrown product they developed into an All-Star and a Gold Glove first baseman, so they want something in return.
These are the teams in play for Youkilis at the moment:
■Dodgers: They need a productive corner infielder, and Youkilis has always been a favorite of manager Don Mattingly, who admires his plate discipline. The Dodgers have been scouting Youkilis at Fenway this week. A reported deal for James Loney would not be Boston’s cup of tea.
■Indians: Like many teams, they could use a righthanded bat at a corner, and are very much involved in talks with the Red Sox.
■Pirates: They need to bolster their offense, because they feel their pitching is good enough to win the NL Central. Getting Youkilis would add a very disciplined hitter to that lineup.
■Diamondbacks: They have had interest in Youkilis for some time, but they declined when the Red Sox asked for outfielder Gerardo Parra. The talks do not appear to be dead, according to a major league source.
■White Sox: They could use a third baseman, but with John Danks going down with an injury, they are more likely to pursue pitching help.
■Phillies. The Philadelphia people deny they are looking at Youkilis, but they had two scouts at Fenway. The Phillies are still awaiting the return of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.