Youkilis back at Fenway for first time since trade
Kevin Youkilis walked up to the plate before his first at-bat
and the familiar chant of ”Yooooouk” echoed throughout Fenway
He briefly said something to Boston catcher Jarrod
Saltalamacchia before taking off his helmet and turning to all
corners of the ballpark to acknowledge the standing ovation, which
lasted more than a minute.
Youkilis then lined a single to center off Aaron Cook and scored
with some aggressive baserunning. The former Red Sox star, traded
to the White Sox last month, headed to third on Adam Dunn’s
groundout when the bag was left uncovered. He dashed home when
first baseman Adrian Gonzalez threw the ball into left field for an
It was the sort of hustle play Red Sox fans grew accustomed to
from Youkilis, and they chanted his nickname again.
After the first inning, the team played a brief video tribute
for Youkilis and the scoreboard read ”Thanks Youk!” Two innings
later, he lined a double high off the Green Monster. In the sixth,
he doubled to right-center, making him 3 for 3.
Welcome back to Boston.
”It’s exciting to come back to a ballpark I’ve known as home
for a long time,” Youkilis said before the game. ”It’s exciting
to face some of my teammates that I’ve only faced in live BP.”
Youkilis returned to Fenway Park on Monday night for the first
time since he was shipped out of town. Before the game, he recalled
his happy moments with the Red Sox but avoided commenting on his
time playing under new manager Bobby Valentine.
Boston traded Youkilis on June 24, sending the three-time
All-Star and cash to Chicago for utility player Brent Lillibridge
and a minor league pitcher.
Youkilis tripled in his last at-bat with the Red Sox and left
the field for pinch-runner and longtime friend Nick Punto. The two
hugged along the first base line before Youkilis took off his
helmet, waved and blew a kiss to the adoring fans. The trade was
announced after that game.
Sitting in an interview room Monday, wearing his black White Sox
jersey and gray uniform pants, he smiled before answering a
question about what he expected to happen in his first at-bat.
”It’s definitely going to be living a moment before,” he said.
”I think my teammates are most excited. I think they’re more
excited than I’ll be. People have been really good to me. I’ll
probably see a few (No.) 20 jerseys out there.”
When he was dressing by his corner locker in the visiting
clubhouse about a half hour before a scheduled interview session in
a room above Boston’s clubhouse, a TV screen showed the empty
interview room and the words ”Kevin Youkilis upcoming interview.”
White Sox teammates Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski joked that
they should all go to the room to support him.
The 33-year-old Youkilis is wearing the same No. 20 he had with
Boston. He played 7 1/2 seasons with the Red Sox and was part of
the 2004 and `07 championship teams.
”There’s no regrets. I had a lot of fun and won two World
Series,” he said. ”I came in my rookie year, won one and won one
playing every day. Some guys can’t even say they won one. I was
very fortunate to win two.”
His playing time in Boston became limited due to the emergence
of rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
But Youkilis didn’t want to talk about his relationship with
Valentine. In April, the manager questioned Youkilis’ commitment in
his weekly television interview, then apologized to him a day
”I don’t understand why this is a big rift,” Youkilis said.
”I’m just here to play baseball and things will happen. There’s no
Bobby V. vs Kevin Youkilis or vice versa. It’s the Chicago White
Sox against the Boston Red Sox and just playing baseball.”
Youkilis was a fan favorite during his time in Boston, often
drawing loud chants of ”Yoooouk” for his hard-nosed play.
Since joining Chicago, Youkilis was hitting .295 with three
homers and 15 RBIs in 16 games. He recorded five game-winning RBIs
in his first 14 games.
”I think what I’m doing now is trying to have fun and win,” he
said. ”There’s nothing else to worry about.”
Having a charity in his name in the area, he said he’d like to
maintain his ties to the city he had called home for his entire big
”This isn’t the last of Boston,” he said. ”I hope to do a lot
of good things off the field.”
NOTES: The Red Sox designated Lillibridge for assignment Monday
when they activated LF Carl Crawford from the 60-day disabled