By Adam Harris-
U.S. CELLULAR FIELD (CBS) As the White Sox were busy regaining first place in the AL Central, management was busy filling a hole at third base via trade.
Former Red Sox, now White Sox, third baseman Kevin Youkilis was dealt during the eighth inning of the White Sox-Brewers pitchers’ duel.
“I just got off the phone with him [Kevin Youkilis],” White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams said. “He’s very excited to join our club. He’s got a little edge to him, which I like, and I think he’s going to fit in just fine with the ball club.”
When asked what edge Youkilis has, Williams simply said, “He wants to come in and he wants to prove some people wrong.”
Two players were sent to the Red Sox in exchange for Youkilis. Pitcher Zach Stewart was one, and the other was due up in the 10th inning of the scoreless game between the White Sox and Brewers.
“Close to the end of the game they took me out, saying ‘we are going to have someone else pinch hit for you,'” newly acquired Red Sox infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge said. “It comes as a shock wave because I thought I was in trouble.”
Coincidentally, Eduardo Escobar pinch hit for Lillibridge with runners on first and second and one out and singled in the game-winning run as the Sox beat the Brewers 1-0.
As for Kevin Youkilis, he had his best season in 2008 when he hit .312 with 29 home runs and 115 RBI’s. He hit above .300 in 2009 and 2010 but slipped to .258 last year and currently sits at .225 with four home runs and 13 RBI’s in only 40 games this season.
“That is something you look into right away,” Williams said, referring to Youkilis’s recent decline and struggle with health. “We were given a good bill of health from him. It has been described that he hasn’t felt this good physically in a long time.”
Youkilis is in the last year of his deal, with about $7 million left to pay him, but the Red Sox are sending over about $5.5 million to help pay that salary. There is a 2013 club option for $13 million with a $1 million buyout.
The White Sox left for Minnesota after their win Sunday for a three-game set, and Youkilis will most likely meet them there and be in the lineup Monday night.
“As much as we hate to see him [Lillibridge] go,” manager Robin Ventura said, “there are positives…Youk is a pro. He’s been there and done it. You wait and see when he gets in here, but you play him and that’s what’s going to happen right away.”
It looks like Orlando Hudson is no longer the number one option at third base, but he will be used in more of a utility role.
“Yeah, I could play the utility role,” Hudson said. “I’m not a GM. Whatever [Robin] Ventura puts me in, I will go and do my best and see where the ball falls.”
Hudson was also very understanding of the acquisition of Youkilis.
“If I was a GM, I would make the same trade. I’m not the best third baseman over there, plus I’m not swinging the bat well, so definitely I would make the same trade.”
The acquisition of Youkilis will add some veteran leadership, to an already veteran clubhouse. That can only help the White Sox chances as the second half approaches.
“It can’t hurt,” team captain Paul Konerko said. “Anyone who has played in Boston and New York, they have to play their a whole season as sort of a fish bowl. They are at a different level most of the time, and that type of focus can only help over here. I think it’s good. He’s a heck of a hitter and just a gritty kind of player. We are happy to have him and I think it can be a real steal when we look back on it.”