Let's be clear on one thing: No matter how much Red Sox Nation loved Kevin Youkilis, he had a reputation for being somewhat less than a cuddly teddy bear. He was intense, in all caps, and that often rubbed people — fans, media and teammates alike — the wrong way.
Why do I bring this all up? Well, perhaps Youkilis has decided he really wants to stick it to Red Sox management and his former manager Bobby Valentine by playing like the Youkilis of old for the White Sox.
After hitting under .220 for two of the first three months of the season while still in Boston, Youkilis is on fire for the White Sox. In the last two weeks, Youkilis is hitting .326 with 2 homers and 11 RBI. Those two homers came during his first homestand at U.S. Cellular Field. For the month of July, obviously a very small sample size, he is slugging .765 and has an OPS of 1.238. Meanwhile his walk rate is up and strikeout rate is down.
Youkilis sure did look done for the last little bit in Boston, but maybe the change of scenery and the desire to show he still had something left in the tank is motivating him and lifting his play. Given his age, recent injury history and body type, however, I'm not buying this as a permanent development. So I would take the opportunity to sell high on Youkilis before he comes back to earth.
It seems somewhat quick, but the Phillies activated Ryan Howard
from the disabled list yesterday and he was scheduled to make his season debut against the Braves.
Howard had yet to play in back-to-back games entering play last night, so it's clear that he will likely not be playing everyday right away. He was swinging well in his rehab assignment in the minors, going 10 for 20 hitting a homer and notching 10 RBI between Single- and Triple-A.
With his recovery from a torn Achillies' tendon apparently complete, feel free to insert Howard into your lineup if you drafted him and have been patiently waiting. But do make sure to keep an eye on the Phillies' lineup daily to watch for his off-days.
Dustin Pedroia struggled through June and early July while playing through a thumb injury, but after attempting to make a diving play in the field earlier this week it is being reported that Pedroia will be hitting the disabled list.
The good news is, however, that Rob Bradford of WEEI reported yesterday that it is not believed surgery will be necessary and that Pedroia will be able to return to the Sox lineup on July 19.
Second base replacement options are slim pickings, but take a look at Daniel Murphy of the Mets. Murphy is hitting .415 with 3 home runs and 15 RBI over the last two weeks and he has first, second and third base eligibility as well.
Another injury concern to keep in mind heading into the all-star break is the status of the left knee of Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton .
The artist formerly known as Mike had missed four straight games going into play last night and underwent and MRI earlier in the week which showed a "loose body" in the knee. Stanton was to undergo baseball drills before Miami's game last night which were to determine if Stanton would play this weekend. Additionally, Stanton suggested he could undergo arthroscopic knee surgery over the break.
Stanton has been somewhat dogged by injuries in his young career, nothing overly serious but plenty of little nicks here and there which add up. Stanton is a great talent when healthy, but his durability concerns drop his overall fantasy value and it may be worth a look to see what you could acquire for Stanton in a trade.