Youkils doesn't look back in anger

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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.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam