CHICAGO – Kevin Youkilis changed Sox last month, from Red to White, and made the move from Boston to Chicago, where he is again an everyday player.
And through two weeks with his new team, the change has been good for both him and the AL Central leaders.
Taking over at third base and batting second, Youkilis is hitting .347 with 14 RBI and three homers in 13 games.
In his first homestand at U.S. Cellular Field, Youkilis has been hearing the familiar “Youk” cries that used to come down from Fenway Park during his successful run with the Red Sox.
He had seven RBI, two homers and a game-winning single in the 10th inning in his first four home games.
“Excited to be in first place. I think that’s the coolest thing about coming over here,” Youkilis said.
“I haven’t played up to my capabilities yet this year, and hopefully in the second half I can.”
Youkilis, 33, homered and had four RBI in his home-field debut. He hit a game-winning, 10th-inning single in his second home game, smacked a go-ahead homer to lead a sweep of the Texas Rangers the next day, had another RBI single and stellar defensive play Friday night and added a two-run homer Saturday as Chicago won its fifth straight by beating Toronto.
He went 3 for 4 Sunday with an RBI in an 11-9 loss to the Blue Jays.
Since Youkilis joined the White Sox in a trade for Brent Lillibridge, Zach Stewart and cash considerations last month, Chicago has gone 9-4.
Youkilis helped the Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, but he started slowly this season and spent much of May on the DL with a sore back.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine questioned Youkilis’ commitment to the game during a TV interview early in the season and later apologized to him a day later.
Youkilis batted just .233 with four homers and 14 RBI in 146 at-bats for the Red Sox in 2012 and the emergence of Will Middlebrooks made him expendable.
Youkilis has already given the White Sox a lift with both his bat and his glove at third base where projected starter Brent Morel has been sidelined a good portion of the season by back problems. Veteran Orlando Hudson was acquired but couldn’t get comfortable at the position after years as a second baseman.
Youkilis has already made several sparkling plays at third, coming in barehanded or backing up and making a nice stop.
“Those plays he’s making at third, there’s none of those that he hasn’t made,” said Chicago manager Robin Ventura.
Youkilis gives the White Sox versatilty in the field and a No. 2 hitter who can both get on base, has power and can drive in runs.
“He has an energy he brings. The competitiveness he has. It’s infectious and it’s a good thing for our guys to see and a guy who has been a winner,” Ventura said.
Youkilis has been inserted into a lineup that already had All-Stars in Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko batting third and fourth and two other players having big seasons in Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski.
“He’s just doing what he’s always done, just doing it in a different uniform,” Konerko said of Youkilis.