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."