Today marked the last day Kevin Youkilis would put on a Red Sox uniform — now his Sox are White. After the Red Sox beat the Braves this afternoon 9-4, it was announced that Youk had been traded to the White Sox for two players I’ve never heard – 25-year-old righthander Zach Stewart and utility player Brent Lillibridge. We knew it was coming. There’s been trade chatter for the past couple of weeks, it was just a matter of when and who.
According to the Boston Globe, the Red Sox will also be picking up $5.5 million of the $6.6 million Youkilis has remaining on his contract for this season. Well that’s a given, isn’t it? When haven’t the Red Sox been responsible for paying salaries for players that don’t actually play for them. Shocker.
Fans at Fenway, some how, some way, knew that today could very well be Youk’s final home game. The cheers were louder, more enthusiastic than they’ve ever been. And when Youk bashed an RBI triple in his final at bat, and was lifted for a pinch runner, you just had a feeling this was it. The crowd and his teammates both showed their appreciation with a standing ovation as he exited the field. A teary Youk then emerged from the dugout for his curtain call to a resounding chorus of Yoooouuuukkkk coming from the fans.
Kevin Youkilis is one of just two players (David Ortiz is the other) left from the 2004 World Series Championship team, having made his major league debut in May of that year. He was drafted by the Red Sox in 2001 and worked his way up through the Sox system. I remember when Youk landed in Portland and played for the Sea Dogs in 2003. The three-time All-Star also won a Gold Glove at first base in 2007.
This season hasn’t been easy for Youk. He has struggled with injuries as well as his bat, and has appeared to be agitated for the better part of the past few months. I’m sure Bobby Valentine’s comments about Youk’s commitment to the game earlier in the season had a little something to do with his malcontent. Maybe if he never went on the DL, if we never got a taste of Will Middlebrooks, maybe there never would’ve been talks of a Youkilis trade. But that’s the way the ball bounces (literally) and look what happened in 2004 after Nomar Garciaparra was traded. I wouldn’t take that one back for the world. Let’s hope only good comes from this move.
In actual game news… Cody Ross kicked some major ass today belting two home runs and knocking in five runs to fuel the Sox win over the Braves this afternoon. Daniel Nava, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis all contributed with two hits and an RBI of their own.
After a rough first outing in early May, Aaron Cook finally scored his first win with the Sox. He pitched five solid innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs. Glad to see no lingering effects of the nasty leg laceration that landed him on the DL.
Clicky here for Youk’s farewell box score, courtesy of the Sox. With the win today, Boston moves officially one game ahead of the last place Blue Jays who lost today. And temporarily five games out of first pending the results of the Yankees/Mets game tonight. The Yankees have their hands full facing R.A. Dickey who has been nothing short of spectacular this season. *whispers* Go Mets!
The Red Sox welcome the Blue Jays to Fenway for a three game series. Here’s to continuing their winning ways and putting more real estate between them and last place. Felix Doubront will go for his team-leading ninth win on Monday night.