The inevitable has finally happened.
The New York Yankees have decided to place third baseman Kevin Youkilis on the disabled list with a stiff lower back that has been bothering him for over a week, reports Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com. In his place, Corban Joseph has been called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It will be his first stint with a major league team.
Because Youkilis was able to play on Saturday (he missed seven games before that date and missed two more afterwards), the Yankees will only be able to set his disabled list retroactive to the last game he played. This makes him eligible to return on Saturday, May 11, when the Yankees play the second game of a three-game series in Kansas City against the Royals.
Youkilis had been hitting well in his first season with the Yankees. Signed as a free agent during the offseason, he's compiled a line of .279/.353/.443 with two home runs and seven RBI.
Joseph will get his first taste of the big leagues with the call-up. He was off to a solid start in Triple-A, hitting .273/.347/.477 with four home runs and nine RBI. For his career in the minors, he's a .282/.365/.430 hitter.
Primarily a second baseman, Joseph has played 43 career games at third base. He's made 10 errors in that small sample size, and the last appearance he made there was in 2010 with the Low-A Tampa Yankees.
He may be asked to play some third base in Youkilis' absence. With Robinson Cano firmly entrenched at second, at-bats for Joseph at that position will be few and far between. He's never played an inning at shortstop, so Joe Girardi would likely not even consider putting the youngster there.
While Youkilis will obviously be back at his spot when he's healthy, Joseph could stick around with the big club if he proves he can handle the majors. Jayson Nix currently occupies the reserve infielder's role, but he provides little offensively.
If Joseph's success at the plate in the minors can translate to major league pitching, then he could take Nix's spot on the roster.
Youkilis' injury isn't great news for the Yankees, but I know I'm happy to see another young kid get a shot. Joseph looked like he had promise in spring training, so it should be interesting to see what he can provide when the games count.