Although it still might seem unusual to see him in a White Sox uniform, Kevin Youkilis is feeling right at home with his new team.
In a 5-4 White Sox victory over the visiting Texas Rangers last night, Youkilis went 2-4 with a walk-off RBI single in the 10th inning. Since being dealt to Chicago on June 24, Youkilis has raised his average 14 points to .247 and is 6 for his last 14 at the plate. He hit his first home run with Chicago the game before and drove in four runs. For the first time in a while, Youkilis seems to be returning to form.
Not everything had been going smoothly for the third-baseman this season. The 33-year-old was hitting .233 for the Red Sox, a career worst, and dealt with injuries early on. His third-base position, his original spot before moving to third and then heading back last year, was seized by young WIll Middlebrooks. Youkilis' struggles this season were also highlighted by his rocky relationship with first-year Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. Valentine called Youkilis out earlier this season saying he was not “as physically or emotionally into the game as he used to be”. When Youkilis was dealt to Chicago, Youkilis' brother Scott expressed his displeasure with Valentine via Twitter .
The White Sox fan base has embraced Youkilis since his arrival and his production has increased because of it. “Like I said, it's a lot fun playing baseball again. It's a good feeling to have. I'm just enjoying it”, Youkilis stated after last night's win.
When you put a hot Youkilis in a lineup that already features Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, and A.J. Pierzynski, you have a potent mix of hitters that should cause trouble for pitchers around the league. There aren't many holes in that group of four, and they could certainly keep Chicago in contention.
Even as a Yankee fan, it's always good to see a veteran like Youkilis playing well. Youkilis clearly needed a change of scenery and he's taking advantage of the opportunity in Chicago. Look for Youk' to continue his production in Chicago as the White Sox look to remain atop the AL Central.