Red Sox

Kevin Youkilis shares own perspective on Red Sox visiting Donald Trump

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USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Youkilis shares own perspective on Red Sox visiting Donald Trump

The tradition of sports teams visiting the White House after winning championships occasionally has stirred controversy, with some players declining to attend for political reasons.

There's a chance that happens again in February, as several Boston Red Sox players reportedly told The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham they won't travel with the team to meet President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15.

On Thursday, former Red Sox corner infielder (and two-time World Series champion) Kevin Youkilis offered his perspective on what his two White House trips meant to him.

George W. Bush was in office for both of Youkilis' visits, which came after Boston's 2004 and 2007 World Series victories. But according to "Youk," the sitting president's politics were less important to him than the historical significance of visiting the Oval Office and meeting other members of the administration.

The 39-year-old even wouldn't mind a fast food feast like the one Trump presented the Clemson football team earlier this week.

Of course, that's Youkilis' own opinion, and the event isn't mandatory, so members of the 2018 Red Sox can decline the visit due to political reasons if they wish. 

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Benching Jackie Bradley was never an option, but first homer of season reminds us what he can be

Benching Jackie Bradley was never an option, but first homer of season reminds us what he can be

It took nearly two months, but on Monday Jackie Bradley's drought finally ended.

The Gold Glove center fielder, mired in a historically brutal slump even by his standards, launched his first home run of the year in a 12-2 pounding of the Blue Jays. His opposite-field shot in the sixth played no role in the outcome -- the Red Sox were already cruising to victory -- but the badly needed blast came with more of us questioning his place in the everyday lineup.

Bradley entered the game hitting .144 with no homers and only four extra-base hits. For someone coming off a strong second half and excellent postseason that included the American League Championship Series MVP award, Bradley's season-long funk felt particularly demoralizing.

While we've always accepted streakiness as part of the package, it really did feel like he had turned a corner last year. He began consulting with J.D. Martinez's personal hitting coach around the All-Star break and in the second half delivered some of the most consistent offense of his career, batting .269 with an .827 OPS. He followed by posting a .943 OPS between the ALCS and World Series, driving in 10 runs in 10 games with three homers and a double.

He arrived at spring training confident in a new swing that would end his streakiness once and for all, and in a sense he was right, because there have been no streaks to speak of, just struggle upon struggle.

But Bradley's path forward is actually deceptively simple. It's easy to forget that he only hit .200 last postseason, because virtually all of his production was pivotal, but it showed the way he could validate his existence from an offensive standpoint: hit for power and his place in the lineup would be secure.

When he opened this season by failing to homer in his first 38 games, however, concerns over his viability began gaining urgency. How long could the Red Sox carry an everyday player who wasn't even hitting .150, let alone .200, no matter how game-changing his glove?

Replacing him isn't as easy as it sounds, though, which is why he's not going anywhere. One option would be to make Martinez a more frequent outfielder and move Andrew Benintendi to center, but the DH has battled back issues and is an average defender at best. The Red Sox need his bat in the lineup, not his glove.

The other would require toppling dominoes that would leave the Red Sox worse than where they started: bench Bradley, move Benintendi to center, try power-hitting youngster Michael Chavis in left, and then fill second base with Eduardo Nunez, Tzu-Wei Lin, Dustin Pedroia, or Brock Holt, depending on who's healthy.

Their averages range from .063 (Holt) to .200 (Lin), so you'd be leaving yourself in the same position offensively, but weakened defensively at two positions. The same logic applies to putting Steve Pearce (.131) in left.

In that context, there's little incentive to bench Bradley, which is why he has appeared in all but eight games. It helps that every regular except Benintendi now owns an OPS of greater than .800, so there's enough offense to go around. The emergence of Chavis and Christian Vazquez lower in the order has saved Bradley from answering some seriously tough questions.

So forget about benching him. A far more palatable option is that Bradley rediscovers his power stroke, maintains a solid eye (16 walks), and keeps making web gems.

Maybe Monday represented a tentative first step in that direction.

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Watch Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis' hot streak continue with huge home run

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USA TODAY Sports

Watch Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis' hot streak continue with huge home run

Michael Chavis' run for American League Rookie of the Year took another positive step forward in the Boston Red Sox's game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon.

Chavis crushed a two-run home run, his second blast in as many days, deep to left field at Rogers Centre to give Boston a 6-2 lead in the third inning.

It was Chavis' ninth home run of the season, tying him with J.D. Martinez for the second-most on the team. Chavis, however, has accumulated these home runs in 19 fewer games than Martinez.

The former top prospect entered Monday's matchup in Toronto with a .290 batting average, 22 RBI and a .389 on-base percentage in 25 games this season. He's collected multiple hits in four of his last six games, including 10 hits overall during that span.

Chavis, at least so far, has been hitting at a better rate than Blue Jays outfielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is considered one of the elite prospects in baseball.

It's obviously very early into Chavis' career, but his impressive development has been among the most encouraging aspects of Boston's 2019 season. Winning the AL Rookie of the Year quickly is becoming a very attainable goal for the talented infielder.

Betts focused on another World Series title, not next contract>>>

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