White Sox-Red Sox Preview

The Fenway Park faithful showed plenty of appreciation for Kevin

Youkilis when he left Boston and again when he returned to town

with the Chicago White Sox this week.

It’s quickly become clear, though, that he’s not helping the

home team anymore.

Youkilis looks to continue haunting his former Red Sox teammates

on Wednesday night as the White Sox turn to left-hander Pedro

Hernandez for his major league debut.

After struggling with Boston (46-45) in 2012 and losing the

starting third base job to rookie Will Middlebrooks, Youkilis was

traded to Chicago on June 24.

The change of scenery seems to have rejuvenated him. The veteran

is batting .319 with 18 RBIs in 18 games since joining the White

Sox, and has elevated his performance even more in his return to

Fenway.

Youkilis got a standing ovation before his first at-bat Monday

and has since gone 4 for 8 with three extra-base hits, including a

three-run homer Tuesday in Chicago’s 7-5 win, which evened the

four-game set.

“He’s just showing off, just rising to the occasion for us and

being in big spots,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I think there’s

something when you get traded, there’s something to prove and that

all goes into it with a lot of people that’s happened to. Coming

back here, not that he says anything, but it’s nice for him to get

in those situations and come through.”

The first-place White Sox (50-40) are 12-6 with Youkilis in the

lineup, averaging 5.5 runs in that stretch.

Their rotation has a few more question marks with John Danks

still out and Gavin Floyd now on the disabled list, leading them to

give Hernandez the ball for the first time.

The 23-year-old Hernandez was one of two prospects acquired from

San Diego for Carlos Quentin on Dec. 31. He’s 7-2 with a 2.90 ERA

over two minor league stops this season.

“We go through spring training and he and (standout rookie Jose

Quintana) were kind of in the same role,” Ventura told the White

Sox’s official website. “So you’re hoping to catch lightning

twice.”

It’s possible Hernandez won’t be in the majors long, with Floyd

eligible to return from the DL in time for his next turn in the

rotation.

He’ll at least get an opportunity to face Venezuelan countryman

and fellow left-hander Felix Doubront, who has a chance to become

Boston’s first 10-game winner.

The Red Sox have won nine of the last 12 times Doubront (9-4,

4.41 ERA) has taken the mound, and he beat the New York Yankees in

his most recent start July 7. Part of his success can be credited

to the majors’ highest run-support average – he’s getting nearly

eight runs per nine innings – but he also has 97 strikeouts in 96

innings for the AL’s fifth-best ratio.

Youkilis has never faced Doubront, but he’s 8 for 24 with three

homers and 10 walks for Chicago against left-handed pitching, going

deep off Jon Lester on Tuesday.

Boston’s lineup has been heavy with lefty hitters throughout

this series, and Dustin Pedroia isn’t expected to return until

Thursday. Outfielder Cody Ross, batting .306 with seven homers in

62 at-bats versus southpaws, figures to be back in the lineup

Wednesday.

David Ortiz (Achilles) is out at least a few more days, but Carl

Crawford has provided a boost for Boston since making his season

debut Monday. He has four hits and four runs in two games and stole

three bases Tuesday.