Youkilis, traded to White Sox, gets fond Fenway farewell
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BOSTON -- A favorite at Fenway Park for so long, Kevin Youkilis took advantage of his final chance to say so long. And he gave his fans something to remember him by.
Not long before he was traded to the White Sox for utilityman Brent Lillibridge and pitcher Zach Stewart yesterday, Youkilis hit an RBI triple in the seventh inning of a 9-4 victory over the Braves.
After the triple, he was lifted for a pinch runner. Longtime pal Nick Punto came out to replace him and the pair hugged. "We've been friends a long time -- 10 years," Punto said. "It was kind of a goodbye."
Cody Ross, who homered twice and had five RBIs, was moved. "It brought a tear to my eye, that's for sure," he said. "To see him run off and tip his hat, he had some tears in his eyes. I got goose bumps. Special time. I know how much he means to this city. He played his heart and soul out every day and just a great teammate. He'll be missed."
Youkilis saluted the crowd and was rewarded with a standing ovation. His teammates, coaches and manager Bobby Valentine were on the top step of the dugout cheering, and they urged him to take a curtain call. He was given a lengthy ovation and the fans chanted "Youuuukkkk!"
Valentine thought it was a fitting sendoff. "It ended the right way," he said, adding: "I told the players what I was going to do and he did the rest."
Longtime teammate Dustin Pedroia said yesterday was tough. "He pushes me every day," he said. "I want to go out and play hard just like he does. He's always out there trying his best to do whatever he can to help us win. I appreciate him so much for that."
Youkilis, a three-time All-Star infielder and career .287 hitter with 133 homers and 564 RBIs, was unavailable after the game, leaving behind a locker without his nameplate above it.
The Fenway faithful should get to see Youkilis soon: Chicago visits Boston a week after next month's All-Star Game.
His time in Boston became limited because of rookie Will Middlebrooks' .326 average, nine homers and 34 RBIs in 41 games. The season started in rocky fashion between Youkilis and first-year manager Valentine. In April, Valentine questioned Youkilis' commitment to the game in his weekly television interview, then apologized to him a day later.
A member of Boston teams that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007, the 33-year-old Youkilis had seen his playing time drastically cut lately. He now joins the AL Central-leading White Sox. "I just got off the phone with him," White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. "He's very excited to join our club and he's got a little edge to him that I like . . . He wants to come in and prove some people wrong."
Said White Sox star Paul Konerko, "I think it's good for him. A good change of scenery, I'm sure. Guy's a good player and he's been a great player in Boston for a long time, so you can play at that level, you can play anywhere."
Lillibridge, 28, is hitting .175 with two RBIs and seven stolen bases in 48 games. He is expected to join the Red Sox in a utility role. Stewart, 25, is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 18 games.
"I loved playing here. I enjoyed it so much," Lillibridge said after Chicago's 1-0, 10-inning win over the Brewers. "I'm excited to see where my career will go and I'm excited to help the Red Sox."-- AP