Kevin Youkilis was conspicuous by his absence from Thursday night's lineup against the Blue Jays, and he wasn't around before the game to describe how he was feeling, either. Instead, it was up to Joe Girardi to give his best guess when Youkilis might return, and the manager seemed as surprised as anyone that his back tightness hadn't cleared up yet.
"He tried to do some work in the cage and he's just not ready," Girardi said. When asked what is specifically wrong with Youkilis' back, or if his prognosis has changed, Girardi repeated that it's been the same issue.
"It's just stiff," the manager said. "He's not rotating the way he wants to rotate, which is kind of important for a hitter, so he's just not ready to go."
Youkilis has not played since Saturday, when he was lifted in the sixth inning after an 0-for-3 that afternoon at Rogers Centre. In the previous two seasons, Youkilis spent time on the disabled list because of back problems, so this latest ailment is a bit worrisome. Keeping him off the artificial turf of the Rogers Centre and Tropicana Field figured to have him in better shape for Thursday night's series opener, but that obviously wasn't the case.
With the manager's news conference scheduled to take place before Derek Jeter's Thursday, Girardi referred to himself as the undercard. When asked about his expectations for Jeter upon his return later this season, Girardi said: "He hasn't done anything in his career that would make me believe that he's not going to be a good player when he comes back." . . . Former Met R.A. Dickey will make his first start in New York since his trade to the Blue Jays on Sunday in the series finale.