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posted: 7/5/2012 12:01 AM

Youkilis a big hit already with White Sox

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  • The White Sox' Kevin Youkilis, middle, is mobbed by teammates after hitting a game-winning single, scoring Alejandro De Aza in the 10th inning Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

      The White Sox' Kevin Youkilis, middle, is mobbed by teammates after hitting a game-winning single, scoring Alejandro De Aza in the 10th inning Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
    Associated Press

 
 

Robin Ventura never gushed as a player, and he has been equally stoic in his first season managing the White Sox.

Kevin Youkilis is threatening to change Ventura's long-standing character trait.

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After Youkilis singled home Alejandro De Aza in the 10th inning Wednesday night to give the Sox a 5-4 win over the Rangers, Ventura could hardly contain his enthusiasm when asked about the new third baseman.

"I mean, you know, I think for me you try to describe to people the importance of Youk coming over here," Ventura said. "That at-bat just really described it best.

"He's 0-2, he's grinding, and it's just continuous. That's the kind of stuff that is infectious throughout a lineup for us. Just grinding out at-bats; it's good for everybody to see that."

Youkilis has only been with the White Sox for nine games since coming over in a trade with the Boston Red Sox, but he already has made a huge impact while becoming an instant fan favorite at U.S. Cellular Field.

After basically being tossed out in the trash by new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, Youkilis is really enjoying the change of scenery.

"I hope it's a great thing," he said after lifting the first-place White Sox to their sixth win in eight games. "Things just keep going up and up. I can say this is the best change of scenery. I had a little rut, baseball-wise, and statistically I was in a funk.

"Hopefully this will be a thing where I can keep going forward and playing better ball. I've had fun. Like I say, it's a lot of fun playing baseball again.

"It's a good feeling to have, and I'm just enjoying it. There are going to be some ruts and hopefully there are small ruts and a lot of positives."

In his first home game with the White Sox on Tuesday, "Youk" hit a 2-run homer his first time up and wound up going 3-for-6 with 3 RBI.

For an encore Wednesday, he hit a walk-off single and made four standout defensive plays at third base, including a pair of highlight catch and throws in the fifth inning.

But Youkilis saved the best for last.

After De Aza fouled a Mike Adams pitch off his right knee, dusted himself off and drew a leadoff walk in the 10th inning, Youkilis quickly fell behind in the count 0-2.

As Youkilis dug in and worked it back to 2-2 on two check swings, De Aza stole second base and easily scored when his new teammate singled to left field on Adams' ninth pitch of the at-bat.

"It's great," Youkilis said. "The main goal is to get the heck out of here. That was way too hot of a game and we've got a day game (Thursday). It's time to go home. That's always my approach.

"Easier said than done, but it was great and fun. I'm having a great time with this team. It's always a lot more fun when you do stuff like that, so hopefully we can continue and have a tough game tomorrow and we've got to finish out the series."

With Youkilis in the lineup, don't be surprised if the White Sox complete a three-game sweep over a Texas team that owns the best record (50-32) in baseball.

"A guy like him can put the ball in play a lot, in good situations, make solid contact like he did," De Aza said of Youkilis. "It's great."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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