Kevin Youkilis is thriving in White Sox’ relaxed atmosphere
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org July 18, 2012 9:34PM
BOSTON, MA - JULY 18: Paul Konerko #14 of the Chicago White Sox plays in his 2,000th career game on July 18, 2012 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
at Red Sox
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The starters: Jose Quintana
(4-1, 2.60 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (8-3, 5.54).
Updated: August 20, 2012 11:58AM
BOSTON — Boston reporters who’ve been around White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis for a long time say Youkilis looked as though the weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders the day he played his first game with his new teammates and manager Robin Ventura.
That was in Minnesota on June 25. Three weeks later, Youkilis is thoroughly enjoying a relaxed atmosphere in the clubhouse.
“Yeah, this is great,’’ Youkilis said Wednesday. “Come to the field every day and you just play baseball. Not much is said other than: ‘Just go out there and do it.’ They give us the luxury of being baseball players and going about our business in the right way every day. And until we don’t — and I don’t see that happening — they’re going to be here to help us out when we need the help and let us play.’’
In Boston, media attention gets close to suffocating at times. The Bobby Valentine situation only made that worse for Youkilis, who, at 34, knows how to get himself ready to play without much help from a coaching staff.
“Yeah, Robin is great about that,’’ Youkilis said. “He just comes in, has fun, talks a little bit and mainly keeps us loose. It’s awesome. It’s a fun environment.’’
Philip Humber, who pitched six strong innings Tuesday in his return from the disabled list, will pitch against Jacob Turner in the finale of the weekend series in Detroit on Sunday. It’s Jake Peavy against Justin Verlander on Friday and Chris Sale against Rick Porcello on Saturday. If Gavin Floyd (elbow tendinitis) doesn’t return from the disabled list Monday, Dylan Axelrod likely will take the start. The rotation is lined up for Sale to get an extra day next Friday in Texas after a day off.
Ventura likes the flexibility Axelrod affords as a long reliever and spot starter. That’s preferred to making repeated minor-league call-ups.
“You have a guy you know can come in and do it,’’ Ventura said.
A day after Adam Dunn got his first stolen base since 2008, Paul Konerko played his 2,000th game as a White Sox player.
“Longevity is not an easy thing, especially with the same team,’’ Ventura said. “He’ll get his number retired someday.’’
The 6-6, 275-pound Dunn, who stole 19 bases with the Reds in 2002, caught the Red Sox off guard when he stole second base in the third inning Tuesday. He said he’ll do it again if the situation warrants it.
“I said to Robin, ‘Hey, listen, man. If he gives it to me, I’m going to go first pitch,’ ’’ Dunn said. “I was thinking he’d start Paul off with a changeup. I took a chance.’’
Dunn looks better running this season. He’s in good shape, and “nothing hurts, that’s the main thing,’’ he said.
This and that
The Sox, who’ve been busy during the international signing period, agreed to terms with three Dominican prospects: corner outfielder Hanlet Otano, third baseman Luis Castillo and shortstop Johan Cruz.