PawSox alum Kevin Youkilis has turned himself into one of the best all-around players in the game. A far cry from the days of Youk riding the “Lou Merloni Highway” up and down route 95 between McCoy Stadium and Fenway Park. To his credit, every time he was sent back to the PawSox, Kevin put his nose to the grind stone and produced. I caught up with the All Star in Fort Myers and he is excited about the prospects for the 2012 season. “I feel good. The change of venue, this whole new Spring Training facility has been great. Guys have adapted well to it and really enjoyed it. I think we’re real excited to start the year here. We’ve got some things to work on, but we’re excited to put all 25 guys together, and go out there and play Detroit.”
Youk felt that one of the biggest differences at camp this year as opposed to the past, was the number of roster spots up for grabs. “It’s definitely a little different this year. There are new guys in here and new coaches. You kind of get used to it. You have to adapt. This year it is all about whatever 25 guys are out there trying to win a championship and that is our goal.”
Kevin says the bitter taste of last September has been washed away, as far as he’s concerned. “The players don’t think about that anymore. People keep bringing it up, but we’re focused on what we have to do every day to win. That’s ancient history to all the players and hopefully, everyone else can get over it and move on. Taste winning, and finish in first place this year.”
Youkilis is enjoying his role as one of the “elder statesmen” on this club. It seems like only yesterday he was fighting for a Major League spot. “It’s a long way from 2004. There’s still a lot of ball to be played, and for me, I enjoy playing for the Red Sox, taking the field with these guys. For me, it’s such a luxury to be playing this game, and for so long. Most guys don’t get to enjoy it as long as I have. I look at it as a blessing every day I get to play in the Major Leagues and for the Boston Red Sox.”
Youkilis grew up in Cincinnati and still has a home there. He is a University of Cincy alum and has spent many enjoyable hours listening to my former braodcast partner, Dan Hoard. This past Winter, Dan added Cincinnati Bengals games to his duties in addition to his job as voice of the BearCats. “Dan’s a great guy. It’s exciting to see what he’s doing. I usually watch on TV, but I did get to listen one time. To hear him and (Dave) Lapham do the games is fun. He’s definitely a great guy ad a great announcer and I’ve heard him for years doing the BearCats. It’s cool to have him there and I wish him a lot of success.” I know a lot of people who are wishing for that same continued success for Kevin Youkilis.