After making short return visits, Kevin Youkilis is finally moving back to his baseball home, his first love -- third base.
"He kind of refers to himself as Happy Gilmore," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, citing the fictional movie character who loved hockey but was better at golf. "He thought he was out of position at first, but for him to be able to bounce from third to first back to third, we wouldn't be able to get an Adrian Gonzalez if we couldn't move Youk."
A two-time All-Star, Youkilis spent the last five seasons mostly at first base, accommodated by the presence of Mike Lowell and Adrian Beltre. With the off-season acquisition of slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Youkilis is shifting across the diamond.
It's not simply that he's able to make the transition, though; he's excited to get reacquainted with third base.
"For me, I think it's just going out there and doing what I did to get to the Major Leagues; I was a third baseman the whole time," said Youkilis, who climbed Boston's farm system as a third baseman. "It will be fun. It will actually be a lot more excitement for me, because I love playing third base."
He has seen spot action at third in recent years, but he is now preparing his body for the rigors of a full season at the hot corner.
"I've been doing some good things with our strength program and getting my shoulder as strong as possible so it will last me the whole year," said Youkilis. "I pretty much know how to turn it on and off, like taking less ground balls in Spring Training and not throwing as much."
Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.
Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.
Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.
Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double.
The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park.
CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games.
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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.