White Sox acquire Youkilis from Red Sox
In return for third baseman and cash, Boston gets Lillibridge, Stewart
CHICAGO -- It was quite a finish to the homestand Sunday afternoon for the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
They claimed a 1-0 victory in 10 innings over the Brewers. They regained first place in the American League Central with Cleveland's loss. And they got what appears to be an upgrade at third base, acquiring Kevin Youkilis in a trade with the Red Sox in exchange for utility player Brent Lillibridge and Minor League right-handed pitcher Zach Stewart.
Boston also will pay approximately $5.6 million of Youkilis' remaining salary.
This 2012 White Sox mix of contending for the playoffs while developing young talent took a decided turn toward the postseason.
"We just thought at this time it was necessary and necessary to do it sooner rather than later," said White Sox general manager Ken Williams of the Youkilis trade. "I just got off the phone with him. He's very excited to join our club. He has a little edge to him which I like. I think he's going to fit in just fine with our ballclub."
"Just a gritty kind of player and we're happy to have him," said White Sox captain Paul Konerko of the Youkilis addition. "I think it could be a real steal when we look back on it."
Youkilis, 33, figures to move immediately into the starting third-base role vacated by Brent Morel, who's recovering from a lower lumbar strain. Veteran Orlando Hudson, who joined the White Sox on May 22 as a free agent, has started 25 games at third base, marking the first 25 big league games he has ever played at that position over his 11-year career.
While the White Sox have a 14-11 record with Hudson in the lineup, he is hitting .170 since coming to Chicago and his defense has been an understandable work in progress. Eduardo Escobar has played 10 games at third and carries a .203 average, but both he and Hudson will now move into utility roles.
Escobar will see outfield time due to Lillibridge's departure. Hudson, meanwhile, handled the change with great class and dignity, after Williams praised him for the effort he put forth at an unknown defensive spot.
"If I was a GM, I'd make the same trade," said the 34-year-old Hudson. "I'm not the best third baseman over there, plus I'm not swinging the bat well, so definitely I'd make the same trade."
When asked if he wanted to stay with the team, Hudson laughed and added, "I've got a job. Kenny, he's the man, so whatever decision he makes... But I've got to thank him, first of all, for getting me over here and giving me a chance. If things are different, no hard feelings. I enjoy the guys here, and the coaching staff's great."
With a .233 average and 15 RBIs, this present campaign has not been a particularly good one for Youkilis. The career .286 hitter with a .388 on-base percentage was sidelined by a back strain from May 2-21 and has not exactly seen eye-to-eye with new manager Bobby Valentine.
Rookie Will Middlebrooks claimed the Red Sox starting third-base job, making Youkilis expendable. The White Sox hope a change of scenery will bring back the previous form that sent Youkilis to three All-Star Games, complemented by that edge spoken of by Williams.
"He wants to come in and he wants to prove some people wrong," said Williams with a smile, adding that he couldn't say exactly what Youkilis said in their phone conversation.
"We're happy that he's going to get a fresh start and hopefully a chance to play in Chicago," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington of Youkilis. "He did a lot of good things for this organization and for the bulk of the time here, he really embodied a lot of the things we believe in as a player. We'll wish him well, except when he's playing against us."
Cherington talked to Youkilis two or three days ago to tell him that they were talking to teams. He then informed Youkilis Sunday of the deal, with Youkilis leaving Fenway Park to a hero's farewell.
Williams admitted the financial component, in regard to how much of Youkilis' remaining $8 million was to be picked up, served as a major factor.
"Let's just say that the deal made sense from a player's standpoint, a talent standpoint, and a financial standpoint for us," Williams said.
"You've got to give up good players to get a player," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Lillibridge, as much as we hate seeing him go, because he does a lot of things for us that are positives, you have to do that to be able to get a good player and Youk's a pro. He's been there and he's done it."
Youkilis figures to take a regular spot in the starting lineup, beginning with the White Sox series opener at Target Field Monday. But the road is about to get tougher for the upstart White Sox.
They have four games at Yankee Stadium at the end of next week, followed by a first-half-ending homestand against Texas and Toronto. The second half begins with an immense challenge -- of the 19 games to be played through the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, 16 will be on the road.
During that time, the White Sox will travel to Kansas City, Detroit, Texas and Minnesota. There also are four games to be played at Fenway from July 16-19, with Youkilis getting a chance to make a quick return to the place where he helped the Red Sox win World Series titles.
As far as possibly adding another pitcher or another player overall, Williams indicated any additions could just as well come from within the system as through a trade. But the developing White Sox clearly are making their move.
"At this point and time we owe it to our fans and the men in that clubhouse in uniform to try to exhaust ourselves to be the best team we could possibly be," Williams said.