Youkilis ready to make the switch


Youkilis ready to make the switch

By SeanMcAdam

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kevin Youkilis will turn 32 in a couple of weeks, an age at which most players beginning to transition from other positions to first base.

But this spring, Youkilis is going the other way. After playing first base for most of the last five seasons, Youkilis is heading to third base to accommodate the arrival of Adrian Gonzalez at first.

Youkilis, however, says that his adopted position is not as low maintenance as it might seem to the uninitiated.

"I think first base is demanding in a lot of ways, too,'' said Youkilis Tuesday morning before the first day of pitchers' and catchers' scheduled workouts. "People don't understand how much wear and tear the body takes when you're holding on runners, allways shuffling, every time a ground ball is hit you have to run to first base. At third base, there are games when you don't get a ball hit to you.

"First base is kind of overlooked in terms of the demands of the position -- if you play it well. And the good thing is, the older you get, the more comfortable you get with your fielding. I'm more comfortable now than I was at 24, or 25 at third base. Actually, with old age, it might be a blessing.''

The position switch is really no big deal, Youkilis insisted.

"I've been a third baseman for all my life and played third base at the major-league level quite a few times,'' said Youkilis. "For me, it's just about going out there and taking ground balls and getting used to all the little things that come with playing third base. Spring training is a good time to allow you to take a lot of reps and get it down. It's a little better than coming in in the middle of the season.''

Of course, there are differences between the corner infield spots and it will take some time for Youkilis to feel fully comfortable again at his old position.

"You have to charge the ball a little more,'' he said. "But you get used to that right away. It comes to you naturally when you play the position that you can't sit back. When you're playing first base, you kind of get a little lazy; whereas at third base, you're prepared.''

One area that could require a refresher course is the variety of arm angles from which a third baseman throws across the infield.

"It doesn't matter if you throw it underhand or over the top,'' he said. "As long as that bal gets to first base before the runner hits that bag, it doesn't really matter. But there are certain angles -- running in, barehanding a ball, you're going to throw underneath; charging a ball, you're going to throwa little sidearm; when you backhand a ball, you're going to come staight overthe top to fire -- you have to work on. Arm angles are probably the biggest thing you have to work on."

Sean McAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Flubbed popup opens floodgates, helps Blue Jays beat Red Sox, 8-6


Flubbed popup opens floodgates, helps Blue Jays beat Red Sox, 8-6

BOSTON -- Justin Smoak hit a pair of homers and Steve Pearce drove in two runs when Boston second baseman Brock Holt lost his popup in the sun, and the Toronto Blue Jays held on to beat the Red Sox 8-6 on Thursday.

The teams split the four-game series. Including the 15-inning game on Tuesday with Toronto, the AL East-leading Red Sox played 76 innings in about 144 hours - the equivalent of 8 1/2 games in six days.

Dominic Leone (2-0) earned the win. Starter Francisco Liriano got just five outs, allowing three runs in the second, but Toronto came back with four in the third to take a 5-3 lead against Doug Fister (0-4).

Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth for his 24th save.

Smoak has 26 homers this season. His previous career high was 20, in 2013.

It was 7-3 in the seventh when Dustin Pedroia, in the lineup at designated hitter after the long week, hit a three-run homer - his third hit of the day and his fourth homer in 11 games.

Smoak, who also had an RBI single, added his second homer of the game in the ninth.

Farrell says Red Sox clubhouse anticipating trade

Farrell says Red Sox clubhouse anticipating trade

BOSTON — John Farrell might have stopped short of actually stumping for a deal. Still, the Red Sox manager on Thursday morning spoke highly of the potential impact of a trade and indicated his players are waiting to see what this front office can add to a first-place team.

From a morale perspective, Farrell sees a potential boon in an acquisition.

“I think it’s always a plus,” Farrell said. “It’s a strong sign that everyone is aligned to support, add to, fortify — however you want to describe it — an area of need. And I think there’s a lot that goes into — there’s almost an injection of maybe that support or, further momentum that, OK, this is going to better equip us to go deep into the season.”

The players, Farrell said, have an anticipation for the possibility of a trade as well.

“I think there is. I think players carry that,” Farrell said. “They’re well in tune. Maybe some of them might be wondering OK, am I out?...So there’s a tentative period of time that we’ll go through here in the next 10-14 days. But adding to [the team] I think is always a positive.”

A day earlier, Farrell noted the improvement the Yankees made in their trade for Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.