BOSTON (CBS) – It will be strange to see Kevin Youkilis, still sporting the #20, taking the field at Fenway Park for a team other than the Boston Red Sox.
And that doesn’t just go for Red Sox fans.
“It’s exciting to come back to the ballpark I’ve known as home for a long time. It’s a little different from the other side, but it’s the same ballpark between the white lines,” Youkilis said Monday from the Fenway Park interview room. “I’m pretty excited to go out there and face some of my old teammates.”
Youkilis On Return To Fenway, Red Sox Fans:
Youkilis returns to Fenway for the first time since being traded to the Chicago White Sox last month. He doesn’t hold any ill-feelings towards his former squad, and his goal for the four-game set will be the same as it is whenever he takes the field.
“You know I’m a competitor and it doesn’t matter who the competition is,” he said. “I’m looking to win every game; that’s my goal.”
Youkilis’ final at-bat as a member of the Red Sox came on June 24 against the Braves, when he smacked his first and only triple of the season. He was pulled for a pinch-runner and walked off the field to a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd.
He said the White Sox fans have caught on to the famous “Youuuuk!” chant well, but is looking forward to hearing the Fenway Faithful for another few days.
“It’s definitely going to be like reliving a moment,” he said of his first at-bat as a visitor. “I think it’s cool because my teammates on the White Sox are the most excited.”
“There are a lot of great fans that have treated me well here,” he said of the Fenway fans. “I’m sure I’ll see a few 20 jerseys or t-shirts out there. People have been great to me here in more ways than one. I can’t thank them enough. I’ve been around the city a little bit and people have been great.”
Youkilis had a tough season in Boston, slumping mightily to start which sparked manager Bobby Valentine to call out his third baseman just two weeks in. Valentine said Sunday that Youkilis never recovered from those comments, and never tried to. Youk did not comment on Valentine’s remarks Sunday afternoon, and didn’t do so on Monday either.
“I don’t understand why this is still a big rift and why it’s still going on. I’m here to play baseball,” he said. “There is no Bobby V vs. Kevin Youkilis. It’s Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox; we’re here to play baseball.”
Youk On Bobby Valentine:
Youkilis was expendable in the eyes of the Red Sox due to the emergence of Will Middlebrooks. But Youkilis did not take it the wrong way, as it was clear the Sox were quickly changing their view of Middlebrooks from third baseman of the future to the third baseman of the present.
In fact, Youkilis wanted to do all he could to help the 23-year-old, starting in spring training.
“In spring training just doing the little things; working the field and trying to help him. There is a time when your career is going to end or you time in a city is going to end. I saw that Will was going to be the guy to follow me. You have to teach them the right way to go about things and how to play the game,” said Youkilis. “Terry (Francona) said to make sure when you leave this game, to leave it the same way you came in. Bill Mueller was great to me, and I wanted to do the same impact to Will; to play hard, do the right things. That’s all you can ask for. I just wanted to teach him that and help him as much as I can.”
Even though his time with the Red Sox ended abruptly, Youkilis said there were no regrets in his eight-plus season in Boston.
“There are no regrets; I came in my rookie year and won a World Series, won another when I played every day. I went to all-star games, met my wife here. There are no regrets to what happened. I’ll never look back and say I should have done this or done that,” he said.