The Red Sox are never popular at Yankee Stadium, and Kevin Youkilis has always been among the least popular of the bunch. That bald head and goofy batting stance were easy to boo, especially when he was hitting .300/.432/.483 with a .915 OPS (his career numbers against the Yankees). Youkilis has a higher career OPS against just three American League teams. Four if you count his 12 at-bats against Boston.
Youkilis was the enemy. He was good, and he was awkward, and Joba Chamberlain kept coming thisclose to hitting him in the head with a fastball.
Now Kevin Youkilis — Kevin (freakin’) Youkilis! — is about to wear Yankees pinstripes.
Yep, it’s awkward.
“Everything stays on the field,” Robinson Cano told the Boston Globe this weekend. “I’ve gotten a chance to talk to him and he’s a nice guy. I’ve had a chance to meet him at the All-Star Game, and he always seemed cool in talking with everybody. There’s some guys that, the way they play the game, you say this guy is not a nice person. But he’s a great person.”
Most importantly, Youkilis is what the Yankees needed. Obviously he’s is declining, but I’ve had a handful of conversations tonight, and it’s clear that the Yankees think Youkilis can still hit. He fits their mold as a guy who grinds at-bats, and he fits their need for a right-handed hitter with power. Youkilis won’t be a Gold Glove winner at third base, but the Yankees feel he can still handle the position.
Given their situation, and given the market, that’s about the best the Yankees could ask for.
“Youk has always been a tough out,” Alex Rodriguez told The Associated Press this weekend. “He’s a tough player, a winning player. Whatever the franchise wants to do, I think that’ll be a good move for us.”
But still. It’s awkward. Really, really awkward.
“I don’t think (Chamberlain) ever hit him on purpose,” Cano told the Globe. “I would tell you that he would be the first guy who would be happy to see him on our team because we know he’s the kind of guy who would help us a lot because he’s been in a situation like that before. He can hit and he plays the game the right way.”
Next year, believe it or not, he’s going to play the game for the Yankees.
Association Press photo