MINNEAPOLIS - Aside from changing the color of his Sox, Kevin Youkilis said he expects to be the same player who's known for grinding out at-bats, playing hard and getting the uniform dirty.
He's even better known for being productive during his all-star and World Series years with the Boston Red Sox. Not so much this season, though, with a .225 batting average and four home runs in 41 games. So a change of color from Red to White is exactly what manager Robin Ventura hopes gets his new third baseman - whom the White Sox traded for Sunday to fill a gaping hole - performing at his best.
"Hopefully I can come to the White Sox and day in and day out, play the game hard, play the game the right way,'' Youkilis said before playing his first game with the Sox against the Twins on Monday night. "I can't guarantee anything with stats and all that. But I know one thing, that I'll come out and play the game right and give it my all and hopefully that's enough. But my stats, hopefully they'll end up on a higher note."
Youkilis started at third and batted second. Gordon Beckham moved from second to ninth in the order.
"Been there before,'' Youkilis said. "I've been to the World Series and playoffs in the 2 spot, so it's not unfamiliar territory to me. One thing I've done in my career is hit everywhere in the lineup. So it's just a spot in the batting order, and things can change in a week. You never know. I don't take too much emphasis on where I'm hitting. I just try to get good at-bats every time I go up to bat."
Youkilis was being phased out of the Red Sox plans, giving way to up-and-comer Will Middlebrooks, who was named American League Player of the Week on Monday. Trade rumors escalated in recent days, so the deal - as tough as it was to digest - wasn't a stunner.
"Probably the most emotional thing I've ever gone through on a baseball field,'' Youkilis said of his final game in Boston on Sunday. "It definitely was very surreal and like a ton of bricks when I got pinch-ran for. A great sendoff. The Red Sox fans were unbelievable . They've always been unbelievable to me. I can't thank them enough for all the great years I had there and the way they treated my family and friends. A lot of great memories.''
That said, he dons the Sox uniform with something to prove.
"I don't think it has as much to do with ... a lot of talk saying, 'you can't play baseball anymore,' '' Youkilis said. "I think I can. I think I can play at a high level and go out there. Talk is one thing, and I'll have to go out there and prove it by my actions."
"I think I started out very cold and hadn't been playing up to my capabilities. It was very frustrating. I wasn't happy with how I was producing. I wasn't playing good baseball. I wasn't consistent with playing time, moving back and forth and it wasn't the way I was accustomed to playing. I was excited just to come to Chicago and be able to play and get out there and try to have as much fun as possible.''