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BOSTON (CBS) - Prior to the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Braves on Sunday, third baseman Kevin Youkilis sat down with WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche for one last time.
Hours later, Youkilis would be traded to the Chicago White Sox, ending weeks of speculation that the three-time All-Star would be dealt.
It had been a tough stretch for Youkilis, who in addition to dealing with his struggles at the plate also had to watch Will Middlebrooks take his job at third.
“It’s not ideal. But it’s one of those things that is part of the job sometimes,” he told Roche from the Boston dugout on Sunday. “Fortunately, like I said, I have a great job. I get paid a lot of money to do my job and there are a lot of people out there that are hurting in life without jobs. It’s not the ideal situation within my job, but it’s still a great job.”
Obviously, hearing his name in trade rumors for weeks and not knowing his future was a bit unsettling.
“It’s definitely stressful,” he admitted, but said that his main focus is his family — notably his wife who is pregnant with their first child and currently with family in California. “Baseball will take care of itself but family is my first thing. If there was ever a problem within my family I would quit this game in a heartbeat. In the long run, this all doesn’t mean anything. I’m just excited to have a son, and excited to be a father. If that’s what my future holds, that’s what my future holds. Hopefully I can still have a good career and keep playing.”
While it was noted he was disgruntled over the trade talks, Youkilis still made the most of his time on the bench. As the younger Middlebrooks started to seize his opportunity, the veteran Youkilis did all he could to help.
“You think about a lot of different things when you’re not playing,” he said. “I watch the game pretty intently out here; I try to help out with the young guys. If (Ryan) Kalish the other night had something to ask me, or if Will had something to ask me, I try to be here for them if I’m not playing because (that’s) what you have to do. You have to help out, do whatever you can for the team. Even though you’re not out there hitting or making a play, you can help develop the young guys mentally.”
And while he was the one taking his job, Youkilis had nothing but praise for the young Middlebrooks.
“He’s doing unbelievable. He’s having a great year and hopefully he’s the future of this team for a long time coming,” said Youkilis. “I was fortunate to have that opportunity; it wasn’t handed to me, just like it wasn’t handed to him. You have to go out and play, and it’s a good thing for him. For me, it’s just a situation there is a good chance I won’t be here at some point. It’s a day closer to that every day. It’s the realization, and you just have to come to the field and try not to think about it, just play at a high level.”
Little did Youk know (or maybe he did) that day was Sunday.
Youkilis did it all during his time with the Sox. He was once the hot third base prospect, seeing some big-league action in both 2004 and 2005 before taking his spot in the majors in 2006. However, with Mike Lowell acquired along with Josh Beckett that offseason, Youkilis transitioned over to first base, where he thrived defensively.
Now that his time in Boston is over, Youkilis can look back on a successful tenure. He was a part of two World Series championship teams, won a Gold Glove at first, and started a highly successful charity to help out kids in need.
“I’ve been very fortunate to play on some great teams,” Youkilis said, reflecting on his time in Boston. “Going to the World Series my first year and winning that, then in 2007 being in the lineup and playing in that, the All-Star games. But overall, the people that I met here in Boston that have become friends — lifelong friends — and the people that have helped so much with my charity, doing so much with Youk’s Kids. We have raised so much money here in the New England area, and luckily we’re going to keep the charity going. … We’ll probably have one event a year here, but we’re going to try and get it more national wherever I end up.”
Youk’s Chairty: Kevin Youkilis Hits For Kids
“For me personally, I just love going out and helping out with kids and doing as much as I can with kids,’ he said of his charity. “I’ve been very fortunate to meet a lot of kids in need and help out. Some of the times it’s just shaking their hands and getting a smile on their face that day, because some of these kids are going through some horrible things. I love that; I love going and trying to be an inspiration to them.”
And of course, Youkilis also wanted to thank the Boston fans for all their support.
“The fans have been great to me. There are a couple out there that have yelled and screamed at me this year. But it’s such a great fan base that has really embraced me and helped my family when they come to town,” he said. “It’s so funny how they ask my parents for autographs. They’ve been so good to me over the long haul, if I didn’t have all that support and admiration I don’t know if I’d be the same player.”
While Youkilis left the field on Sunday to a rousing applause, fans will have another shot to thank Youk in a couple of weeks. The White Sox come to Fenway Park for a four-game series July 16-19.