While Kevin Youkilis became expendable with the Boston Red Sox, he's been plenty productive on the South Side.
Youkilis returns to Boston for the first time since getting traded as the Chicago White Sox - winners of seven straight at Fenway Park - open a four-game set with the Red Sox, who have much to be excited about with Carl Crawford 's season debut Monday night.
After hitting .233 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 42 games with Boston (45-44) and having his commitment to the game questioned by manager Bobby Valentine , Youkilis - thanks also largely to the emergence of Will Middlebrooks - was shipped to AL Central-leading Chicago in exchange for Brent Lillibridge , Zach Stewart and cash June 24.
The three-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, who spent the first eight-plus seasons of his career with the Red Sox, has been a welcome addition to the White Sox (49-39). He's compiled a .295 average in 16 games with his new team, going deep three times with 15 RBIs.
"All the memories I have and the stories are from (Boston)," Youkilis told MLB's official website. "But the thing for me is, I'm making my own story with this team, new stories and a new beginning. It's going to be fun, and the good thing here is we are in first place and we have to keep going and playing well, and stay in first place."
While Youkilis can expect to receive a warm ovation at Fenway, Red Sox fans should have lots more to cheer for with Crawford in the lineup for the first time this season.
The four-time All-Star outfielder, who signed a seven-year, $142-million contract prior to what was a disappointing 2011 campaign, is set to bat second in his season debut. He underwent wrist surgery in January before spraining the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow during spring training.
Crawford went 11 for 36 (.306) with an on-base percentage of .432 during an 11-game rehabilitation assignment.
"I'm not expecting any immediate impact. Just expecting one of nine, a guy who can go out there and be a contributor," Valentine said. "I hope that whatever he needs is provided him from his surroundings. I hope he's healthy. I think if he's healthy, he'll do fine."
"We need to get some momentum going in this second half," said Middlebrooks, who went 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
The Red Sox could be hard-pressed to build on Sunday's result with the White Sox coming to town. Chicago has outscored Boston 46-26 during a seven-game winning streak at Fenway.
The White Sox posted their 11th win in 15 games overall Sunday, 2-1 at Kansas City. Chris Sale threw eight strong innings and Adam Dunn belted his major league-leading 28th homer - his third in as many days.
After sending Gavin Floyd - Monday's original scheduled starter - back to Chicago due to soreness in his right forearm and elbow, the White Sox give the ball to Dylan Axelrod (1-2, 6.16 ERA). The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings of relief Friday, earning the win during a 9-8, 14-inning victory at Kansas City.
Axelrod has had a rough go at it over five starts, going 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA. In his last start, the rookie surrendered a career-high seven runs and three homers over three innings of an 11-9 loss to Toronto on July 8.
The Red Sox counter with Aaron Cook (2-2, 4.37), who is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts since being removed from the disabled list June 24. The veteran right-hander, though, wasn't very sharp in his final outing before the All-Star break, yielding three runs and nine hits over six innings in a 3-2 loss at Oakland on July 4.
Cook is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA over two career starts versus Chicago. A.J. Pierzynski has gone 1 for 12 against Cook while Dunn is 4 for 18 with a homer.
|Chicago White Sox|
|June 29, 2012||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Left game - upset stomach|
|June 25, 2012||Brian Bruney||15-Day DL||Left hip inflammation|
|June 24, 2012||Jesse Crain||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 17, 2012||Philip Humber||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|June 13, 2012||Adam Dunn||Day-to-Day||Sprained ankle|
|June 04, 2012||Kosuke Fukudome||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|Boston Red Sox|
|July 14, 2012||Scott Atchison||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|July 04, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||Day-to-Day||Jammed right thumb|
|July 04, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||15-Day DL||Jammed right thumb|
|July 03, 2012||Daisuke Matsuzaka||15-Day DL||Neck injury|
|June 20, 2012||Clay Buchholz||15-Day DL||Gastro-intestinal illness|
|June 20, 2012||Clay Buchholz||15-Day DL||Gastro-intestinal illness|
BOSTON (AP) -- It was almost perfect for Boston Red Sox fans: They cheered Kevin Youkilis early in the game and enjoyed a late-inning rally by their team. A limping David Ortiz just put a bit of a damper on the nice night.
Adrian Gonzalez spoiled Youkilis' return to Fenway Park, hitting a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning of a 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday.
The Red Sox traded Youkilis on June 24, sending the three-time All-Star and cash to Chicago for utilityman Brent Lillibridge and a minor league pitcher. Youkilis went 3 for 4 with two doubles in his first game back at his longtime home.
Youkilis was serenaded with chants of "Yooooouk" when he stepped to the plate in the first.
"It was a great ovation. It was just a cool thing from the fans," he said. "I can't thank them enough for all the support they've given me."
The Red Sox received a scare when Ortiz came up limping after rounding second on Gonzalez's homer and limped badly all the way to the dugout.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he'll have an MRI on his right Achilles on Tuesday.
"He's little upset and a little sore, but it doesn't look he pulled anything or tore anything," he said. "It's probably going to be some days, though. It's that Achilles. You know, he's had the heel and where the Achilles attaches in the back of the heel. I guess he's had it in the past."
Ortiz spoke briefly and was somewhat encouraged.
"Yeah, I got sore, but I didn't feel any pop, so that's a good sign," he said. "I iced it so it's not as bad as it was."
Carl Crawford returned to Boston's lineup after missing the entire season with left elbow and wrist injuries, going 1 for 3 with a walk.
Crawford and Ortiz opened the eighth with consecutive walks against Leyson Septimo (0-1). Gonzalez then hit a drive into the seats above the Green Monster for just his seventh homer of the season.
Vicente Padilla (3-0) worked one inning for the win, and Alfredo Aceves finished the game.
Ortiz had a walk and single, giving him 10 straight with at least one hit and a walk to set a club record. Ted Williams held the previous mark, going nine straight in 1950.
Youkilis received a warm welcome when he walked up to the plate before his first at-bat. The burly third baseman took off his helmet, turned and waved to all corners.
He then singled up the middle against Aaron Cook . Adam Dunn followed with a grounder to second and Youkilis kept going toward an uncovered third with a shifted infield. First baseman Gonzalez then fired the ball into left for an error, allowing Youkilis to score.
"It was nice," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "I think everyone kind of kind of expected that for what he's done here."
Crawford singled in the bottom half and scored on Gonzalez's single to right.
Both starters were solid. Cook allowed five hits in seven innings and is 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled after getting spiked and cutting his left knee covering home plate.
"Me and Youk grew up together in the Cincinnati area," Cook said. "We were on the same travel team for three years. Today is pretty special."
Chicago's Dylan Axelrod matched his career high with eight strikeouts and yielded seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.
The Red Sox, who took two of three at Tampa Bay over the weekend, opened a seven-game homestand.
NOTES: White Sox LHP John Danks , out with a mild muscle strain in his shoulder, played long toss and was encouraged by the results. "I feel like I'm making progress," he said before the game. "(Tuesday) we're going to try doing the same, Wednesday off and Thursday push it back a little farther. Thursday will tell a lot." He went on the 15-day disabled list in May and figured he would be back by now. ... Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury played his fourth straight game since coming off the DL Friday against Tampa Bay. He was sidelined since mid-April with an injured right shoulder.