Monday May 21, 2012 | 05:08 AM

Kevin Youkilis or Will Middlebrooks?

The debate will surely heat up this week when Kevin Youkilis is expected to come off the disabled list (after playing a rehab game tonight with Pawtucket)

Youkilis, 33, slumped in the 18 games he played with Boston (.219 average/.635 OPS). This is his third season that has been interupted by injury.

Middlebrooks, 23, will play his 18th game tonight. He is batting .275/.885. He is athletic and has played pretty good defense.

I would side with general manager Ben Cherington, who said Youkilis will not lose his job because of an injury. The samples listed above are too small. If Youkilis comes back and continues to struggle, then a change is warranted.

Another major leaguer rehabbing with Pawtucket, Daisuke Matsuzaka, is being shut down because of pain in his trapezius muscle (upper back/shoulder). That means more time on the disabled list and, eventually, another rehab assignment.

Still another major leaguer with Pawtucket, reliever Mark Melancon, finally gave up a run in Triple-A. After recording two outs, he issued two walks and a 1-run double. His ERA is now 0.64, as he awaits an opening in the Red Sox bullpen.

Sea Dogs outfielder Bryce Brentz got his average above .300 (to .302) with a 4-for-5 game. See today’s Press Herald story.

Salem beat Frederick 3-2 with Xander Bogaerts (.271) hitting the game-winning two-run single … Jackie Bradley (.373) went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. His OPS rose to 1.066.

Brandon Workman (3.52) made the start for Salem: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K … Reliever Michael Olmstead (1.13) got his ninth save, allowing a hit and striking out three. Olmstead, 25, a minor league free agent, has 19 strikeouts and 0 walks in 13 innings. Time for Double-A?

Greenville won in 10 innings with outfielder Keury De La Cruz (.323) getting the walk-off RBI with a two-out single, with bases loaded.


About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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