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Ben Cherington on D&C: Kevin Youkilis trade ‘best for everyone’

06.25.12 at 10:47 am ET
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Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s trade of Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox, Clay Buchholz’s trip to the 15-day DL with a gastrointestinal disorder, David Ortiz’s role in the clubhouse and more.

Cherington told John Dennis and Dale Arnold, sitting in for the vacationing Gerry Callahan, that he felt Sunday’s dramatic day at Fenway played out well, thanks to a Sox win and an ovation for Youkilis.

“It was a busy few days,” Cherington said. “We were working hard to find a resolution and give our clubhouse and our manager a chance to get a little bit more stability back to our lineup and to find an opportunity for Kevin to get a fresh start.”

While Cherington said he had told Youkilis that the Red Sox were talking to teams about a trade a handful of times over the last two or three weeks, it was only in the last few days that they began to push for one in earnest.

“We got to a point several days ago where we decided ‘you know what, this might be the best thing, if there is a trade that we could find, it may be the best thing for everyone,’” Cherington said.  “We’ve got so much respect for Kevin, certainly personally, I do. I was the farm director when we joined the organization and he plays his heart out every day he gets in a Red Sox uniform so I wanted to see him get an opportunity, but the reality is, Will Middlebrooks deserves to play and Bobby [Valentine]’s got to put Middlebrooks in the lineup. And it made for a tough situation and we tried to make the best of it and move Adrian [Gonzalez] around, and try to mix and match to get guys in there but it wasn’t ideal so we decided if there was a trade we could find that made sense we would pursue it and we’ve been working on that for several days and it just so happened that the White Sox one was the one we liked the best.”

As to whether trading Youkilis would help ease reported tensions in the clubhouse, Cherington said he didn’t know exactly what the media was referring to but said “I think it was hard, I think it created a challenge for Bobby, certainly. You have guys, you know, that should be playing and you have too many guys for the spots in the lineup. That’s just the reality. When you have guys that can play every day and are sitting on the bench, at least one every night that maybe you shouldn’t have.”

Asked whether the obviously uneasy situation and rampant trade rumors hurt trade offers, Cherington acknowledged, “anytime you are trying to trade a player who isn’t performing and not playing a lot, you’re not dealing from a strong position. So we were trying to do the right thing for the Boston Red Sox. I think we realized going into it that if we had chosen to trade Kevin Youkilis after the 2009 season, the return would’ve looked much different.”

Cherington went on to share his impressions of Youkilis and his admiration of Youkilis’ work ethic.

“When you talk about Kevin, let’s look at the body of work. And the body of work was extraordinary,” Cherington said. “He guy that willed his way from being a good player to being an elite player. And did it by playing hard every single day. Including when he was struggling. Even this year, I still never saw him not run out a ground ball. And I can’t say that about more than a small handful of professional baseball players that I’ve been around. … There are very few players I can say that about. Over ten plus years of watching him play. That’s what I choose to focus on with Kevin is that he is a remarkable player who did things the right way, played his heart out and this year for whatever reason, it didn’t work out and we had a kid come up and play so well that we had to keep him in the lineup.”

When asked about Ortiz, who has railed against ESPN’s Buster Olney and others’ characterization of the clubhouse as toxic, Cherington pointed to Ortiz’s leadership role and a general frustration from the team at the level of scrutiny they are receiving.

“I think David has taken on a huge amount of responsibility in the clubhouse this year and really sort of fighting this notion that the Red Sox are what the Red Sox were characterized as last September.” Cherington said.

Though he and the team understood they would be criticized and evaluated more than ever in the wake of last year’s collapse, Cherington said “I think occasionally frustration over every single thing being scrutinized has boiled over. The good news is that every time its happened the guys have shown up the next day and played really well. I think we have a pretty good group in our clubhouse and as I’ve said before, what I’m most impressed with with this team is the collective toughness to it.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis and Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news visit weei.com/redsox.

On Buchholz’s trip to the DL: “We are not concerned at all in the long run but he did get hit pretty hard with this thing. He was sick enough that it looked like it would be a few days before he really felt strong again and therefore wasn’t going to be a skipped start, it might be a couple starts. Once we decided on that we had to put him on the DL.”

On Daniel Bard struggling in Pawtucket: “Daniel is down there [in Pawtuckett] to work on things. Yesterday’s outing he looked really good and lost command of the strike zone later in the outing and walked a couple of guys later in the outing. But, there continue to be signs every time he is out there that things are coming and going in the right direction and he feels it. And he’s confident in the direction he’s going. So, not quite there yet, no doubt, a little more work to be done but we’re hopeful he’ll be back in our bullpen at some point soon and helping us win games out there.”

Read More: ben cherington, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz
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