White Sox acquire veteran Youkilis to play third base
What a day for the White Sox.
Dick Allen, the Sox' American League MVP in 1972, got Sunday off to a rousing start when he threw a strike to John Danks on the ceremonial first pitch.
From there, rookie left-hander Jose Quintana took the ball and delivered another sterling start, pitching 8 shutout innings against the Brewers while extending his overall scoreless streak to 16 innings.
Sunday's game was scoreless until pinch hitter Eduardo Escobar came through with a run-scoring single with one out in the 10th inning, lifting the White Sox to a 1-0 victory over Milwaukee.
The Sox (38-34) are back in first place in the AL Central, a half-game up on the Cleveland Indians.
Now for the really big news of the day — the White Sox landed Kevin Youkilis in a trade from the Red Sox, sending utility man Brent Lillibridge and recently demoted pitcher Zach Stewart to Boston.
The deal picked up steam Saturday and was completed a day later, with the Red Sox agreeing to pay $5.5 million of Youkilis' remaining contract. The White Sox will pick up $2.5 million.
"I just got off the phone with (Youkilis)," said White Sox general manager Kenny Williams shortly after the win over Milwaukee. "He's very excited to join our club. He has a little edge to him, which I like. I think he's going to fit in just fine with our ballclub."
An edge, yes.
The 33-year-old Youkilis has long been one of the most intense players in the game.
But can he still produce? Or is Youkilis going to be the next Manny Ramirez, or the next Roberto Alomar?
Is his troublesome back healthy enough to keep him on the field?
"We were given a good bill of health from him," Williams said. "He said he hasn't felt this good physically in a long time."
The trade could work out very well for the White Sox, who desperately need help at third base.
Brent Morel, Orlando Hudson, Escobar and Lillibridge manned the position over the first 72 games of the season and delivered a combined 1 home run with 20 RBI while batting .167.
That used to be a good week or two for Youkilis.
The trade moves Hudson to a backup role, and the 34-year-old infielder is not at all upset about the Youkilis trade.
"It's baseball," Hudson said. "If I was a GM I'd make the same trade. I'm not the best third baseman over there, plus I'm not swinging the bat well, so definitely I'd make the same trade."
Released by the San Diego Padres on May 17, Hudson signed with the White Sox five days later after Morel experienced another back injury. The former second baseman is batting .170 with 1 home run and 11 RBI in 28 games with the Sox.
"I must commend the spirit and the job Orlando Hudson has done up to this point for us," Williams said. "We needed to fill the position. He came in admirably and really went after it. He's made some great plays over there.
"In terms of wanting and needing a little bit more stability at the position, as well as providing a little bit of offense in the form that Kevin can provide it, another on-base percentage guy, another guy that is not afraid to get a big hit, we just thought at this time it was necessary and necessary to do it sooner rather than later."
Youkilis is expected to be in the White Sox' lineup against the Minnesota Twins on Monday night, although manager Robin Ventura still has to decide where Youkilis will hit in the order.
"Youk's a pro," Ventura said. "He's been there and he's done it. It's one of those where you wait and see when he's in here and you play him, and that's going to happen right away."
It has been a rough season for Youkilis, a wildly popular player in Boston.
He was benched by new manager Bobby Valentine early in the season, landed on the disabled from May 2-21 with lower-back tightness and ultimately lost his job for good to Will Middlebrooks.
Youkilis batted .233 with 4 home runs and 14 RBI in 41 games with the Red Sox this season.
After being benched for three straight games, he was back in the lineup Sunday and went 2-for-4. Youkilis was lifted for a pinch runner after hitting an RBI triple in the seventh inning, and Boston played a video tribute of his nine-year career.
Overall, Youkilis batted .286 with 133 home runs and 564 RBI in nine seasons with Boston. The Cincinnati native is a three-time all-star, and he won a Gold Glove in 2007 as a first baseman.
Youkilis played a major role in helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and '07.
"I think it's going to be good for him, a change of scenery," captain Paul Konerko said of Youkilis. "Any pitcher will tell you he's one of the toughest at-bats you'll have in the American League, in any league. We're happy to have him.
"I think it's good. He's a heck of a hitter. Just a gritty kind of player, and we're happy to have him. I think it could be a real steal when we look back on it."
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