Youkilis to visit hand specialist

Kevin Youkilis, who was placed on the disabled list Tuesday because of a muscle tear in his right thumb, will get a second opinion from a hand specialist in Cleveland on Thursday.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that Youkilis has an 8:30 flight Thursday morning and that the Sox were hoping he would be returning to Boston before Thursday night’s game against the Indians.

While surgery may have to be an option, Youkilis, wearing a protective plastic brace on the right thumb, stood at his customary first-base position and handled throws during batting practice on Wednesday.

"It really stinks," Youkilis said after the Red Sox beat the Indians 3-1 on Tuesday. "[This injury] is very rare. Zero athletes have had it, at least as far as the doctors have said. It was a freak accident. I don't know how it happened or the reason behind it. It just happened.

"If I have to have some procedure, though, it's pretty easy to do. It won't affect me down the road. It's misfortune but I've been healthy for a very long time. I wish I could help the team out, but luckily this isn't career-ending. I'll still be able to play, just not right now."

Meanwhile, Mike Lowell, who homered on the first pitch he saw Tuesday night in his first at-bat after being activated from the DL, was not in Wednesday night’s starting lineup.

Part of that had to do with the matchup, with Cleveland starter and former Red Sox hurler Justin Masterson on the mound. Masterson has been tougher on right-handed hitters than left-handers.

It’s also a case of Francona wanting to make sure he “doesn’t run Mikey into the ground.”

"I do want to monitor Mikey's playing time," Francona said. "If we keep him fresh, he's a really good hitter. ... I don't think you take a guy who hasn't played in three week and run him out there every day for a week. That's not in anyone's best interest."

Francona will be monitoring the playing time not only of Lowell but also Jed Lowrie and Jacoby Ellsbury, who recently have been taken off the DL.

Marco Scutaro, who has batted in the leadoff spot for the majority of the season while Ellsbury was out, slid down to the No. 2 spot in Wednesday night’s batting order.

“He has been tremendously consistent,” said Francona. “He has played through some bumps and bruises and more. And he has played a good brand of baseball. We felt we could put him in the leadoff spot every day and not worry about it. That’s a big thing.”