In the back of his mind, Kevin Youkilis knew a trade was imminent. However, that didn’t him any less emotional when he took his final steps off the field at Fenway into the only dugout he’s known for the last nine years.
“It was definitely very surreal, and hit me like a ton of bricks when I got pinch-ran for,” Youkilis said in response to the standing ovation the fans gave him after coming out of Sunday’s game. “It was a great send-off. The Red Sox fans were unbelievable. They’ve always been unbelievable to me. I can’t thank them enough for all the great years I had there, how they treated my family and friends. A lot of great memories.”
Youkilis, who was greeted at the steps of the clubhouse with hugs from his teammates, was traded to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Zach Stewart and utility player Brent Lillibridge. The emergence of Will Middlebrooks and the drop-off in Youkilis’ production ( hitting just .233 in 42 games) ultimately made the 33-year-old veteran expendable.
It also didn’t help that Youkilis and first-year manager Bobby Valentine seemed to be at each other’s throats from the start of the season.
“It definitely was not an easy time for me,” he said. “It was tough for my family, to try to figure out where we’re going. But it’s a great thing to be in a great city in Chicago. I’m very fortunate to play for two baseball teams that have such storied franchises.”
The three-time All-Star, who is a career .287 hitter with 133 homers and 563 RBI, will now look to prove that he can still contribute on an everyday basis.