Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis Pressing Because of Contract Status?

Brian RoachCorrespondent IApril 16, 2012

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13:  Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was injured in a double play in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during the home opener on April 13, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis are both in contract years and are trying to show the Boston Red Sox, as well as other teams, that they can be an asset for years to come. However, both players have been struggling out of the gate.

Ellsbury is going to be out indefinitely due to his separated shoulder. He was hitting .192 in 26 at-bats with zero home runs and three RBI. The Red Sox center fielder had been on a tear before Reid Brignac came down on his right shoulder. He was 3-of-6 against the Tampa Bay Rays with two runs driven in.

Maybe when he returns to full health, he will be able to start off heart and still be in the MVP race. He is out anywhere from two to eight weeks and hopefully the injury does not worsen while he is sitting out.

Youkilis is an entirely different story.

The Sox third baseman has been hitting the ball hard lately to increase his average to .200. Youkilis was been a high-.200 or low-.300 guy when healthy and it looks as if he is starting to press for power numbers. He has yet to hit a homer and he has only one extra-base hit in his 30 at-bats. His only walks have come in the last two games where he is seeing the ball well. He has four hits in his last 10 at-bats and has reached base in seven of his last 13 plate appearances.

It has been a slow start for both Ellsbury and Youkilis, but if they can stop thinking about their contracts for a few minutes and start thinking about hitting the baseball, they will be able to relax.

Ellsbury should come back with a chip on his shoulder and that will hep him play at the MVP caliber Red Sox fans saw in 2011. Youkilis wants to play more and he just needs to show he still has some thump with his bat before the season ends.