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Kevin Youkilis has bursitis in hip

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis has played through discomfort in his left hip ever since he hurt it sliding in an attempt to break up a double play in Baltimore back in April. Some days have been worse than others, and he also hurt his back, which finally placed him on the disabled list last month.

Now, the hip has flared up again, to the point where Youkilis returned to Boston from Toronto on Friday and underwent an MRI. According to manager Terry Francona, the test showed Youkilis has bursitis in the hip, for which he received an injection of anti-inflammatory medication. Depending on how he feels Saturday, Francona said, Youkilis will either rejoin the team in Florida or await its return to Boston after the weekend.

Either way, it would seem unlikely Youkilis will play this weekend versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Red Sox DH David Ortiz had bursitis in his right heel last month and missed nine games. Rest would seem to be a prequisite for Youkilis before he returns to the lineup, but Francona did not address how much time Youkilis could miss.

Bursitis is painful, and depending on which side of the hip the bursae have been inflamed, the pain can be experienced in the groin. Bursae, as stated on the Mayo Clinic's web site, are small fluid pads that act as cushions for the bones, tendons and muscles near the joints. Hips, knees and heels are typical areas where the bursae become inflamed, resulting in bursitis.

Hip injuries have become increasingly prevalent in baseball -- Mike Lowell, Chase Utley and Alex Rodriguez are just three examples of players who have required surgery to address more serious hip injuries -- and the 32-year-old Youkilis undoubtedly has aggravated his condition every time he dives for a ball or slides into a base.

Youkilis also was diagnosed with a sports hernia that is likely to result in surgery during the offseason, The Boston Globe reported Saturday, citing major league sources.

Asked about the possibility of a sports hernia, Francona gave a somewhat vague response Friday night.

"Do you know what that is?" he said. "It's undiagnosed when you have weakness there (in the abdominal, groin area). It's a vague team for what's going on there. I can't help if somebody reports that. We're trying like hell to win a game, you know what I'm saying? I have no way to write somebody's story. I just told you what I was told."

A sports hernia, of course, is considerably more serious. Former Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron required surgery to repair a sports hernia last season.

Youkilis just returned Sept. 2 from a 15-day stint on the DL with a lower back strain. He has just five hits in 27 at-bats since his return, and was noticeably limping the past couple of nights, Francona said.

Youkilis got off to a slow start this season, batting just .218 in April, but had lifted his average to as high as .288 on July 16, with his on-base percentage (.410) and slugging percentage (.513) similar to his career norms (.394, .497). But in 32 games since then, Youkilis is batting just .192/.302/.358, and there is little question that his physical ailments have contributed to his slide.

Pitcher Erik Bedard, whose start here Friday was skipped because of lingering soreness in his left knee, also went to Boston from Toronto and was diagnosed with a mild lat strain, Francona said, the manager asserting that Bedard strained the muscle while compensating for his knee in his last start.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.