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updated: 7/1/2012 4:30 PM

On Youkilis, young Sox bullpen and the new Rios

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  • The deal for third baseman Kevin Youkilis was a good one, says Chris Rongey, because the White Sox didn't have to give up a top pitching prospect or a reliever off the 25-man squad. The White Sox, Rongey contends, will need every pitcher they have this season.

      The deal for third baseman Kevin Youkilis was a good one, says Chris Rongey, because the White Sox didn't have to give up a top pitching prospect or a reliever off the 25-man squad. The White Sox, Rongey contends, will need every pitcher they have this season.
    Associated Press

 
 

Q. What are your early impressions of Kevin Youkilis, and how much better are the White Sox at third base?

A. Well, they're definitely better because they have an actual third baseman to play every day at that position. Orlando Hudson did about as well as he could've done for a guy that had been in 10 Major League seasons before ever playing over there.

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Now, the Sox have a solid player that should improve the position's on-base percentage by 100 points, at least. That will prove to be useful batting in front of all-stars Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.

For a while, I believed the price to make the Youkilis trade would cost more than what the Sox could -- or should -- afford. With Boston picking up most of his remaining salary and the Sox avoiding the loss of any everyday contributors, the deal can only help this team.

My fear was that they would package a higher prospect or a reliever off the 25-man roster in a potential trade for Youkilis, and I believed (still do) that the Sox need all the pitching help they can get. Losing a reliever to make that deal wouldn't have maximized the improvement.

Since the Sox didn't do that, I'm happy.

Q. Were you surprised the Sox designated Will Ohman for assignment? Is Leyson Septimo an upgrade?

A. Not completely surprised, but I thought they would allow him to stick around a bit longer since the veteran presence in the pen is scarce, even with Ohman on the team.

Hopefully, Septimo does the job better than Ohman did. While he has better stuff than Ohman (better fastball and throws a slider and changeup), there's always uncertainty with how a younger pitcher will perform once he gets the call.

If he's able to maintain control of the strike zone, Septimo is going to give left-handed hitters a difficult time. And if his changeup works, he'll be able to pitch effectively to right-handers, too.

Q. Why is Alex Rios playing at such a high level?

A. He has been fun to watch, hasn't he?

He's relaxed and confident which makes him better. As has already been noted dozens of times this season, Rios is clearly better in right field than he was in center. I'm sure that has something to do with his overall level of comfort.

Last year's Rios was often labeled as a player that didn't care, which really wasn't true. In reality, 2011 was tough on him mentally, and body language that was identified as indifferent was actually frustration. Not everyone exhibits frustration in the same way.

Fortunately for the Sox, that Rios is gone.

Q. The White Sox have six rookies on the pitching staff. Is that going to be a problem as the season progresses?

A. Though I think they would prefer to have a guy or two with more experience in the bullpen, the team doesn't seem to be that worried about it. That's because they strongly believe in the young arms they have and feel like they're armed with real, actual talent out there, and not just roster-fillers.

I still think they'll look to add a veteran, but I'm not sure what they're willing to pay.

• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com. Subscriber Total Access members can email him questions each week via our online link.

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