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updated: 7/7/2012 7:09 PM

How Youkilis fits the Reinsdorf profile

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  • Alejandro De Aza, left, Kevin Youkilis and Dayan Viciedo celebrate the White Sox' victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night.

      Alejandro De Aza, left, Kevin Youkilis and Dayan Viciedo celebrate the White Sox' victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night.
    Associated Press

 
 

We know what kind of player Jerry Reinsdorf wants.

We know this because we've seen the same kind of acquisition time and time again.

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But we really know this, to the core of our baseball beings, because Jerry told us.

On "The Club," MLB Network's reality series that focused on the White Sox two seasons ago, the Sox chairman talked about the impending arrival of Andruw Jones.

"I like to get guys who were good, had bad years, and now have something to prove."

There it was. Suddenly, you understood why Sox fans saw so many reclamation projects and late-career stars come to town. The likes of Roberto Alomar, Jermaine Dye, and Scott Podsednik (part 2) come to mind.

I'm sure you can reel off the names of a few right now.

The latest one is working out remarkably well.

Not long ago, Kevin Youkilis was seriously elite. Between 2008 and 2010, the league leader in OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) was Albert Pujols. Right behind him at No. 2 among everyone was the current White Sox third baseman.

Youkilis was bad this year in Boston, after a down year by his standards in 2011. The Red Sox were done with him, desperate to clear more playing time for a good young player in Will Middlebrooks.

And there was this: Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine tried a bizarre and wildly unsuccessful managerial ploy in April, questioning whether Youkilis was "as physically or emotionally into the game" as he had been in the past.

Youk got angry, his teammates came to his defense, a brittle clubhouse fractured further, a manager was quickly loathed, and a ballclub didn't play any better.

Valentine picked the wrong guy.

So the Reinsdorf acquisition profile was set. Been good, had bad years, and, man, does Youkilis have something to prove.

This legendarily intense player is going about his business with a perfect mix of ferocity and glee.

"For me, personally, there's some little bit of an anxious (feeling) just trying to go out there," Youkilis told me and Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM The Score this past week. "There's a lot of people that said I couldn't play baseball anymore, and I feel I can."

Boston, where beloved Youk had helped deliver two titles to a starved fan base, had become what he described as "claustrophobic." The Fenway clubhouse is cramped, dim and stark, a blatant analogy for what it can feel like to play in that town. His baseball home became unwanted confinement.

And from that cell Youk found his way to, well, the Cell. Here's what this year's Robin Ventura/Mark Parent/Don Cooper/Joe McEwing White Sox clubhouse feels like to the new guy.

"This is baseball here, where you just go out and play the game and not a lot of drama."

Yes, the White Sox are now a no-nonsense, breath-of-fresh-air destination for players tired of endless sideshows. In a somewhat related story, anyone know how the Miami Marlins are doing?

The trade was an absolute no-brainer, whether successful or not. Boston picked up a big pile of the money, and the players sent as compensation were replaceable.

But right now it looks like perhaps the best deal of general manager Kenny Williams' regime. Youkilis had four straight games with a go-ahead RBI this week, and he flat out won two of them. If he got hurt today, it still would be considered a steal.

Credit the GM, and credit the player.

But don't forget the owner, always looking for that next guy with something to prove.

And this time the point already is proven.

•Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The McNeil & Spiegel Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM, and The Score's "Hit and Run" at 9 a.m. Sundays with his Daily Herald colleague, Barry Rozner. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670. Matt thinks a runner trying to score from first on a double into the gap is the most exciting play in baseball.

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