Although New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi is not optimistic about the return of Kevin Youkilis this season, Youkilis refuses to rule it out. He is making progress, but is there enough time left for his return?
Girardi indicated on Thursday that he felt the chances that Youkilis would return this season are not probable. But Youkilis was much more optimistic.
“I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Yes, I’m definitely going to play,’ because if something happens, then I look bad,” Youkilis said. “For me, it’s about if I’m progressing well and getting everything in order. I feel great, and hopefully they’ll allow me to play.”
Youkilis, who has been on the disabled list since June after receiving surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, is stepping up the pace of his progress. He has been using the tee and is throwing sixty feet. Reportedly, he has been experiencing normal soreness in his back, but he does not have pain. Typically, recovery time for this surgery is 12 weeks. This is week number 11.
“We’re just going day by day. There’s no magic ball,” Youkilis said. “Hopefully if it all works out, I’ll be playing this year.”
The best scenario is that he could return for the last week of the regular season. If that happens, he could certainly contribute as a pinch hitter with the opportunity to supply a couple of big hits as the playoff race heads for the finish line. That’s also enough time for him to get his timing down with the bat in time for the postseason.
If Youkilis is able to make it back, history shows that he could be a factor. Although he is batting only .219 with two home runs and eight RBI this season, he has come up big in his career in October. He has a .306 batting average with six home runs and 17 RBI in his 29 postseason games. He won the World Series in 2004 and 2007. So he would give the Yankees something they have been looking for in the playoffs in recent years, a bat that produces when it matters the most.