BOSTON -- Manager Bobby Valentine came up with a new solution to his dilemma at third base on Sunday.
Valentine's lineup for Sunday's series finale vs. the Braves featured rookie Will Middlebrooks as the designated hitter and Kevin Youkilis at third base. The two have been battling it out for playing time at the hot corner this month.
Youkilis was a healthy scratch the previous three games with the red-hot Middlebrooks getting the nod at third. On Saturday, the veteran voiced his displeasure with his reduced playing time.
"You want to play. I definitely want to play the game and enjoy it and have fun," Youkilis said. "I don't know my situation. To be honest, I was never told what's going on here -- let's get that straight."
He's been the subject of swirling trade rumors, but Valentine said that did not factor into the decision to play Youkilis on Sunday.
"I don't think it's directly related to anything other than trying to win a ballgame and keep him as sharp as possible," the manager said.
Middlebrooks has made a strong case to remain in the lineup. The 23-year-old is 10-for-14 with three homers, nine RBIs and three doubles in his last five games.
With Middlebrooks making his first career start at DH, David Ortiz was out of the lineup at home for the first time this year. Ortiz is 0-for-11 over the past three games.
"Talking to him last night I felt he could use a day [off]," Valentine said. "David was out of the strike zone more than he has been in a while. David said, 'Maybe I could use it.'"
In his last three starts entering Sunday, Youkilis went 4-for-10 with two doubles and two walks. He's hitting .225 with four homers and 13 RBIs this year.
'Gastrointestinal situation' lands Buchholz on DL
BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz became the latest Red Sox pitcher to make a trip to the disabled list on Sunday, the result of what the club described as "a gastrointestinal situation."
Buchholz was not at Fenway Park for Sunday's game vs. the Braves, his second straight day away from the ballpark. The righty was scheduled to start Sunday's series finale, but he was scratched on Saturday in favor of Aaron Cook and placed on the 15-day disabled list.
"We're hoping that we will get him back at the end of 15 days," said manager Bobby Valentine.
Valentine was vague in describing Buchholz's health.
"I haven't gotten a lot of information about exactly how it happened or whatever happened," the manager said. "We'll have more later."
Buchholz last pitched on Tuesday vs. the Marlins. He was in the midst of his best stretch of the year with a 4-0 record and 2.43 ERA in his last five starts, including a complete-game shutout vs. the Orioles on June 7.
The right-hander checked into a hospital this week.
"After his last start he was OK the next day and then he started feeling something," Valentine said.
Buchholz is the second member of Boston's rotation to go on the DL in the past nine days. Josh Beckett went on the DL on June 16 with right shoulder inflammation. The move was retroactive to June 12, meaning Beckett could pitch as soon as Wednesday vs. the Blue Jays.
The Red Sox are not in a rush to activate the righty, however.
"We want to make sure that he's right," Valentine said. "He'll have to throw off the mound, feel really good and we'll schedule another bullpen [session] that will then be followed by a start. Hopefully it coincides right when his 15 days are up, but we won't rush it if in fact he needs another day or two."
For now, Boston's rotation consists of Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Franklin Morales and Cook.
Matsusaka has made three starts in the Majors this month since recovering from Tommy John surgery. Morales had been a reliever for the last four years before making his first start with Boston last Sunday, followed by another on Saturday. Cook came off the DL Sunday and started vs. the Braves in his second outing of the season.
"It's a work in progress, let's say," Valentine said.
McClure returns, resumes pitching coach duties
BOSTON -- The Red Sox welcomed back pitching coach Bob McClure prior to Sunday's series finale vs. the Braves. McClure had been away from the team for more than two weeks due to personal reasons.
McClure returned in time for Aaron Cook's second start of the year. The right-hander started Sunday's game in place of Clay Buchholz, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an undisclosed illness.
"We've got to get him caught up is all," said manager Bobby Valentine. "Once he gets caught up he'll be right in the swing of things."
During McClure's absence, the club's rotation has undergone a few changes.
Cook was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. Last Sunday, Franklin Morales made his first start since 2009 in place of Josh Beckett, who is on the DL with inflammation in his right shoulder. Morales struck out eight in six innings on Saturday vs. the Braves in his second outing to win his first game as a starter with the Sox.
Valentine described his rotation as "a work in progress" on Sunday.
"We'll get Bob in that loop and see if he has any ideas," Valentine said.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.