BOSTON Its not an easy situation for Kevin Youkilis. The veteran player, who has been with the Red Sox since being drafted in the eighth round of the 2001 draft, very likely has very little time left with the Sox as trade rumors continue to heat up.
And with Will Middlebrooks playing like the highly prized prospect the Sox thought he was, Youkilis playing time will become increasingly limited, if as manager bobby Valentine said, he wants to play the hot hand.
I have no thoughts on anything, Youkilis said. I havent been told anything so until Im told anything I can't really respond.
You want to play. I definitely want to play. You want to play the game, you want to enjoy it and you want to have fun. I dont know my situation. I never was told whats going on here. Lets put that straight. And Ill leave it at that. I dont want to start up anything. There was no conversation. That was it. But it has been addressed.
Its been addressed Im not playing today, but other than thatbasically there was no conversation about it. Im just coming in and getting my work done and if I need to pinch hit and play the game, Ill come in and play.
Asked how it was addressed, Youkilis replied:
Ill leave it at what was said.
With the July 31 trade deadline a little more than five weeks away, Youkilis will continue to hear his name attached to trade rumors.
Its definitely different and youve got to go day to day, he said. its definitely unknown waters but all you can do is come to the field, do your work and try to improve with going in the cage or going out on the field and working on ground balls, So thats what Im doing, is taking ground balls, hitting in the cages, doing some extra work today and trying to do whatever I can to keep fresh.
Trying to do whatever I can to keep fresh.
Youkilis made his big league debut in 2004, the year the Sox won their first World Series title in 86 years, and was a central figure in the 2007 title. He has been a three-time All-Star with the Sox. But the last few seasons, hes been limited by various injuries.
Definitely hit all the ups and downs, he said. I probably could describe it to you 10 years down the road better. When you're in it you really cant describe the stuff you're in. Somebodys going to have to remind me about a lot of the times here. Ill ask Pedey. Pedey remembers everything. You see it all and to be continued, I guess.
He said hes trying not to focus on the what ifs.
No. I just go out andIm just trying to work on things, he said. Im trying to hit, stay fresh, get my work in. Thats my whole mindset every day I come to the field, just get my mind set and ready to play.
I have no control of that. I can only control the stuff I can control and Im just going to go out there every day and take batting practice and cheer on the guys when they play.
He missed 22 games earlier this season with a low back strain, and is hitting just .225. He cant improve his offense if hes not in the lineup, he said.
I dont know. I went 2-for-3 my last time but if you dont play I dont know how much closer you can get, he said. If you dont hit and you dont play, you can't put up any stats or hits. I raked in the cage, if you want to know that. I was hitting missiles all over the place, but you dont get credit for that.
I was hitting the ball good. In the game in Chicago too I hit the ball good and had nothing to show for it. Im definitely going in the right move but Ive got to keep working at it and keep grinding away, in the cage and taking ground balls and just try to stay fresh in case my name gets called at any time.
Asked about his time with the Sox and winning a World Series, Youkilis replied:
Is this a goodbye thing? Whats going on here? Im just sitting in my locker. I havent been told anything. Lets talk about today. Im still here. Im not dead.
Middlebrooks has started the last three games, while Youkilis has watched from the bench.
I dont know. Im a paid employee here so they make the decisions, Youkilis said. When you're a paid employee and your boss tells you to do something you do it. Until they tell me something Im here to play for the Red Sox.
Middlebrooks credited Youkilis with helping him make the transition to the big leagues.
Will and Ryan Kalish and the young guys it's fun to help them out because sometimes they need it, Youkilis said. its fresh to them and they're going to make mistakes, like the veterans make mistakes, too, on the field and they look up to the veterans sometimes. And some of the mistakes that we made early on in our career we had a veteran come up to us and tell us what to do. When you play this game you're an ambassador to the game as a player so you have to be that way and you can't be selfish if you're not playing. Youve got to teach these guys how to play this game because someday were all going to retire and these guys are going to be playing, and theres going to be guys after them, so if they can pass along the messages to the guys after them, the guys that are playing to them when theyre young too down the road, thats the key. I was taught that in 2004 by some great players here and Im just trying to pass on the knowledge that was given to me.
God, there were so many of them. That 2004 team, I mean I hung out with Mark Bellhorn a lot but Trot Nixon was always great. Mainly the guys that were there to talk a lotDave McCarty was really big and helped me out and Doug Mirabelli was always good at making fun of me and joking around, and Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. Theres a list. Bill Mueller was great, too. I can't say one person but theres such a good core ground and that helped, and thats how its got to be. That happens on all the teams.
But taking his replacement under his wing cant be the easiest situation for Youkilis.
Cant change who you are and what you do and Ive always tried to help them out, he said. Im not going to change who I am and what I do. Im just going to try to help them out every day.