|Red Sox pregame notes: Sox finally close to getting their lineup||07.16.12 at 7:56 pm ET|
Jacoby Ellsbury is 6-for-14 in his first three games back. Carl Crawford is batting second in his first game of the 2012 season on Monday. And on Thursday, the Red Sox now appear likely to have Dustin Pedroia returning from the disabled list on the first day on which he’s eligible to do so — potentially as the All-Star-caliber second baseman that he has been for so much of his career, rather than a player who was barely an imitation thereof while dealing with multiple thumb injuries this season.
“He truly feels great,” manager Bobby Valentine noted of Pedroia. (More on his improvement here.)
The result is that, by the end of this week, for the first time all year, the Red Sox may have a pretty good approximation of the lineup they anticipated having in 2012. Though Will Middlebrooks has replaced Kevin Youkilis, the rookie has been delivering the sort of production that the Sox would have loved to see from the veteran, and so the lineup will soon look very similar to the one envisioned by the team entering the year, with Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Cody Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Middlebrooks, Carl Crawford and Mike Aviles offering the team the sort of depth (at least in terms of reputation) that has been missing for much of this year.
If there was a moment for the Red Sox to assert themselves, this would appear to be it.
“I think we’re a really good team with everyone healthy,” said Crawford. “I think we’re one of the best teams in baseball.”
That perspective helps to explain why the Red Sox, at this time, have no intentions of blowing up their roster.
– Crawford said that he expects to play virtually every day, a perspective shared by manager Bobby Valentine. Read the rest of this entry »
Before Monday’s four-game series opener against his former team, Kevin Youkilis spent nearly 17 minutes answering questions about his return to Boston after being traded to the White Sox on June 24. He took the high road when asked about his strained relationship with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, refusing to acknowledge publicly any tension between the two.
“I don’t understand why there’s [speculation of] this big rift,” Youkilis said. “I’m here to play baseball.”
But Youkilis also acknowledged that he is more relaxed playing in Chicago, where the White Sox are leading the AL Central with a 49-39 mark.
“We have like four beat writers that follow us and one time they didn’t ask me a question after a game, and I was like, ‘Are they going to ask me a quesiton? Nah.’ It was great,” Youkilis said.
“I definitely miss my house that I had here. A lot of good memories, lot of great things and a lot of good friends, a lot of good friends that are here and they’re sad that I left. They can come out and visit in California in the offseason or vice versa, I’ll come back here, have a charity event here in the offseason so this isn’t the last of Boston. I hope to keeping doing stuff in the community and helping out as much as I can and do good things, not on the baseball field but off.
“I would say there is less drama all around. No offense to [media] but there’s always a story. With us [White Sox], it’s going about the game, you play, it’s overwith, you get a question but there’s no drama of questions all the time. It’s just fun, it’s fun. We’re also second fiddle to the Cubs so it’s always great. We don’t get a lot of [attention]. It’s easy. [White Sox manager Robin Ventura] is laid back about just go play the game and do the things [you need to do] and we have a lot of fun. Not to say we didn’t have a lot of fun in Boston while I was here, it’s just a different entity in the Midwest, I guess.”
Youkilis said he will always look back on Boston fondly and told reporters he has no regrets about the way his time with the Red Sox ended.
“Any regrets? 2008, I wish in Game 7 [of ALCS] I had hit more home runs against [Matt Garza],” Youkilis joked. “No, but there’s no regrets. I had a lot of fun, won two World Series, came in my rookie year and won a World Series and won another one playing every day. Some guys can’t even say they won one. I was very fortunate to win two, and got to go to All Star games and all cool stuff, met my wife here. So, there’s no regrets of what happened and I’ll never look back and say I should’ve done this or done that.”
|A look back at Kevin Youkilis’ time with the Red Sox||at 4:38 pm ET|
For years, Kevin Youkilis was a fan favorite among the Fenway Faithful, punctuated by his hard play, flair for the dramatic and consistency as a member of the Red Sox. On Monday night, only less than a month after being traded, he’ll make his first appearance at Fenway Park as a visitor.
Drafted by the Red Sox in the eighth round of the 2001 MLB draft, Youkilis spent three seasons in the minors before getting called up to the Red Sox in 2004. He spent nine seasons with the club, posting numbers of 133 home runs, 564 RBIs, 494 walks with a .287 batting average, .388 on-base percentage and .875 OPS. He was also named an All-Star three times and earned a Gold Glove before being dealt to the White Sox last month.
As Youkilis returns to Fenway for the first time as a visitor, here’s a look at some of his most memorable moments during his time with the Red Sox:
– Youkilis earned the affection of the Red Sox fanbase within the first game that he donned the uniform on May 15, 2004. With regular starting third baseman Bill Mueller placed on the disabled list, Youkilis was immediately called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place in Toronto.
Batting eighth against Blue Jays pitcher and 1996 Cy Young Award winner Pat Hentgen, Youkilis connected in his second at-bat for his first major league hit, a solo home run to left field in the fourth inning to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead that earned him the silent treatment when he returned to the dugout. With the homer, he became the seventh player in club history to hit a home run in his first game. He finished the game 2-for-4.
– Youkilis had always been a poster boy for hard work ethic, whether it was working counts, fouling off pitch after pitch or legging out hits, which earned the admiration of Red Sox Nation. Never was that more apparent than during a game against the Indians on May 28, 2007, when Youkilis smacked a fastball to the triangle in centerfield at Fenway. After the ball made a strange bounce, Youkilis turned on the jets and motored his way around the bases for what turned out to be the first inside the park home run of his career to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.
“It was just funny watching him run,” joked Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia after the game.
– Youkilis turned in his best statistical season with the Red Sox in 2008, when he finished as one of the best hitters in the league. He completed the year batting .312 with 29 home runs, 115 RBIs and a .958 OPS. He earned his first All-Star team selection (starting at first base) in his first year on the ballot, won the Hank Aaron Award – which is annually given to the top hitter in each league as voted by fans and media – and even finished third in AL MVP voting.
The first baseman was also at the top of his class defensively. During his impressive 2008 season, Youkilis broke the major league record for most consecutive games without an error by a first baseman (194 games). He also later set a new record that season when he fielded his 1,701st consecutive defensive chance without an error on April 27, 2008, a record previously held by Stuffy McInnis from 1921 to 1922.
– A sensational Red Sox career wasn’t without controversy for Youkilis, however. On June 5, 2008, tensions rose between Youkilis and Manny Ramirez in the dugout, leading to a scuffle that forced them to be separated. One grainy piece of footage caught by the cameras at NESN revealed Ramirez apparently taking a swing at Youkilis, but no reason as to why the two confronted each other was fully explained.
Ramirez was later traded that season and Youkilis took his spot in the order as the cleanup hitter.
“We have two different approaches to the game. Winning and losing isn’t life and death to Manny,” Youkilis said of Ramirez in 2009.
In 2009, Youkilis was again involved in a scuffle, this time involving him and an opposing player. On Aug. 11, 2009, Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello nailed Youkilis in the back with a pitch, prompting the first baseman to charge the mound and a bench-clearing brawl to ensue. Both players were ejected from the game and Youkilis was handed a five-game suspension.
– Timely hits were also a part of Youkilis’ Red Sox resume. On April 29, 2008, he broke a scoreless game with a game-winning walk-off single in the ninth inning against the Blue Jays that scored David Ortiz for the 1-0 victory.
Then, on April 24, 2009, Youkilis delivered more heroics. In the bottom of the 11th inning of a 4-4 game against the Yankees, Youkilis turned on an offering from Damaso Marte and sent it over the Green Monster seats for a walk-off solo home run that gave the Red Sox a 5-4 victory.
– During the 2011 offseason, during the height of Youkilis’ popularity, car dealer Herb Chambers put together a commercial that included Youkilis and singer Biz Markie in which they sampled his song, “Just A Friend,” to include the lyrics, “Youk, you got what I need.”
– Youkilis wasn’t just clutch during the regular season. In fact, he was arguably at his best during the postseason, where he was a big factor in helping the Red Sox claim their 2007 World Series championship. Mostly a bystander during the 2004 title run, Youkilis set records in 2007. In the 2007 ALCS against the Indians, he set records with a .500 batting average, 10 runs and 14 hits in the seven-game series.
In 29 career games and 125 career plate appearances in the postseason as a member of the Red Sox, Youkilis hit .306, six home runs and 17 RBIs with a .944 OPS.
– Youkilis’ most memorable moment may have saved itself for last. With trade speculation mounting in light of third baseman Will Middlebrooks’ breakout rookie season, Youkilis had one last memory for the Fenway Faithful in what turned out to be his final game in a Red Sox uniform.
In the seventh inning against the Braves on June 24, Youkilis displayed the heart he had showed Boston for so long as he raced around the bases for an RBI triple. Manager Bobby Valentine – who was told earlier in the day by general manager Ben Cherington that a trade involving Youkilis was looming – then pulled him out of the game, prompting an emotional farewell and curtain call as he exited Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox for the last time.
|Bobby Valentine on D&C: Unsure if moving parts affected clubhouse atmosphere||06.27.12 at 12:19 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine discussed the implications of Kevin Youkilis‘ departure on his appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“My job, I think it’s the same but probably with less moving parts,” Valentine said. “There’s one less moving part, or maybe even four less moving parts depending on how many people were affected by the challenge to get everyone as much playing time as possible so that they can stay sharp and help the team win.”
Valentine did not say if the change will affect clubhouse atmosphere because he wasn’t sure if it impacted the atmosphere in the first place. The move will affect Adrian Gonzalez, a first baseman who has spent playing time in the outfield because of Youkilis’ appearances in the lineup.
“Adrian Gonzalez is going ot have a super year for us when it’s all said and done because he’s a super player. Regardless of what glove he has on I think he’s going to wind up being a terrific player,” Valentine said. “That being said, I did say that he probably won’t play the outfield until the World Series so he taped up his outfield his glove and wrote on it, ‘To be opened at the World Series.’ He’s not planning on going back there anytime soon.”
There are still some looming moving parts the Red Sox will have to deal with when players return like Carl Crawford return from injuries. Valentine said he hasn’t decided if Crawford will resume his starting position in place of Daniel Nava in left field when he is finished rehabbing.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I have all expectations for Carl when he plays, when he returns,” Valentine said. “That’s just a question of when he returns.”
Boston’s skipper said the Red Sox will most likely use a six-man rotation for the next week, as Josh Beckett is set to return from the DL on Saturday night.
“[We will] just keep everybody in the rotation, keep the guys who’ve been there from the start of the season [and give them] just a litle break before their last start before the all-star break,” Valentine said. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Youkilis on trade uncertainty: ‘It was not an easy time for me’||06.25.12 at 8:21 pm ET|
Former Red Sox corner infielder Kevin Youkilis joined his new team, the White Sox, in Minneapolis on Monday, one day after he’d been traded in exchange for Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart. Youkilis talked to reporters on Monday about the difficulty of life on the trading block, his offensive struggles this year and his outlook on joining the White Sox.
Here are some highlights:
On whether he was expecting to be traded: “Yeah. I was informed by [Red Sox GM Ben Cherington] that things were getting talked about. Basically he said he’ll come back to me, tell me when it starts picking up. After the game the other day, he said, ‘It’s definitely picking up.’ I just didn’t know. There’s a few teams out there. It was not an easy time for me. It was tough for my family, trying to figure out where we’re going. But it’s a great thing to be in a great city in Chicago, a lot of great history, and I’m very fortunate to play for two baseball teams that have such a storied franchise.”
On his offensive struggles: “I think I started out really cold, and I hadn’t been playing up to my capabilities. It was very frustrating. I wasn’t very happy with how I was doing. I wasn’t playing good baseball. I was inconsistent. The playing time went back and forth. It wasn’t the way I was accustomed to playing. I’m excited just to come to Chicago, get out there and play and try to have as much fun as possible.”
On being dealt to the White Sox: “I heard a lot of Chicago fans saying stuff to me, like, ‘Come here to Chicago,’ and stuff like that. Other than that, I knew it was one of the teams that wanted me. I enjoyed the city when I was there. I’ve always enjoyed it. I think it’s a great city, and a great town. It’s driving distance from my parents in Cincinnati, so it’s a great fit.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Reaction from Chicago on acquistion of Kevin Youkilis||at 4:05 pm ET|
The White Sox acquired third basemen Kevin Youkilis from the Red Sox on Sunday in exchange for Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge. Here is how the trade was received in Chicago.
“He’s very excited to join our club and he’s got a little edge to him, which I like. I think he’s going to fit in just fine with our ball club.” — Ken Williams
Maybe a couple years ago it would’ve been a big move, but look, trading a minor-league pitcher and a bench player and paying almost nothing for it does not constitute a big move. This is more like buying a lottery ticket. [Ken] Williams is gambling that he will get lucky with an old guy who’s looking older still because of a bad back and having a bad year to match. Whatever Youkilis has done before does not seem to matter this year, especially this month. — Chicago Tribune sports columnist Steve Rosenblooom
“He’s been a great player for a long time in Boston. If you play at that level, you can play anywhere.” – First basemen Paul Konerko
“It’s baseball. If you were the GM, if I was the GM, I’d make the same trade.” – Infielder Orlando Hudson
“Adding a nice piece there, and kind of giving that statement to our fans and to our team, ‘We’re in this thing to win it.’ ” – Pitcher Jake Peavy.
Young boy reacts to trade:
A young White Sox fan wasn’t so happy to see Kevin Youkilis come to town because Lillibridge happened to be his favorite player.
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.”
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