Youkils doesn't look back in anger


Youkils doesn't look back in anger

On his way back to Fenway, Kevin Youkilis took the high road.

Meeting with reporters Monday afternoon, hours before he was to play his first game Boston as a member of the Chicago White Sox, Youkils fondly recalled his career with the Red Sox and avoided any direct reference to his frosty relationship with manager Bobby Valentine.

"It's exciting to come back to the ballpark that I've known as home for a long time,'' said Youkilis. "I'm pretty excited to go out there and face some of my former teammates.''
Youkilis labeled his first three weeks in Chicago "great. I think the transition was easy because of the players and the coaching staff. They welcomed me. All the White Sox have been so great to me.''

Recalling his final game as a member of the Red Sox, when he was pulled for a pinch-runner in the seventh and got an emotional send-off from fans and teammates alike, Youkilis called it a "great day,'' and a tribute to Red Sox fans.

Looking back on the deal, Youkilis sensed that the Red Sox had decided to make rookie Will Middlebrooks their regular third baseman. Noting that he was blocked at first by Adrian Gonzalez and at DH by David Ortiz, Youkilis sensed it was time.

"There was either one or two moves to be made to relieve the logjam, and I was that move,'' said Youkilis, "because of contract issues and all different kinds of issues. That's just the bottom line. In the team's opinion, it was time for me to go.''

As best he could, Youkilis steered clear of any controversy.

"I don't understand why this is still a big rift,'' he said. "I'm just here to play baseball. There's no Bobby V. vs Kevin Youkilis or vice versa.

It's about the Chicago White Sox vs the Boston Red Sox and playing baseball.

"I'm just here to comment on this game today and going forward. Whatever happened in the past, there's been a lot of great moments, there's been a lot of down moments, and there's been a lot in-between. So I'm not going to

That's what it's all about. We're here to play baseball. We're not here to do anything else.''

But read between the lines and there were a few comments that alluded to the friction that existed between he and Valentine.

Asked if he no longer felt wanted by the Red Sox before the deal was made, Youkilis said:

"I think the players were great to me, a lot of people were great to me.''

The use of the word "players'' doesn't seem accidental, intimating that while teammates were behind him, the manager wasn't.

He also couldn't help but note "it's definitely fun to know when you're playing. There's not added things going around. I know everyday, I'm playing.

If I'm not playing, Robin will come to me....He's pretty good with communication.''

Youkilis was one of the players taken aback by Valentine's policy of not informing players
the night before they were out of the lineup. It first happened in the third game of the season in Detroit.

He cited "less drama'' in Chicago than in Boston, which he partly attributed to the smaller number of reporters who cover the White Sox.

"It's fun,'' he said. "We have a lot of fun. Not to say we didn't have a lot of fun when I was (in Boston). But it's just a different entity in the Midwest, I guess.''

He vowed to maintain ties to Boston, where some good friends reside and where he still operates a charity.

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.