BOSTON (AP) - Kevin Youkilis took off his batting helmet, waved to the crowd and blew a kiss to his adoring fans.
A favorite at Fenway Park for so long, he wanted a final chance to say so long.
The Boston Red Sox traded away the hard-nosed Youkilis on Sunday, sending the three-time All-Star infielder and cash to the Chicago White Sox for utilityman Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart.
A member of Boston teams that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007, the 33-year-old Youkilis had seen his playing time drastically cut lately. He now joins the AL Central-leading White Sox, who wanted a regular third baseman.
“I just got off the phone with him, he’s very excited to join our club and he’s got a little edge to him that I like,” White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. “I can’t tell you exactly what he said, but he wants to come in and prove some people wrong.”
After hitting an RBI triple in the seventh inning of a 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves, he was lifted for a pinch runner. Longtime pal Nick Punto came out to replace him and the pair hugged.
Youkilis saluted the crowd and was rewarded with a standing ovation. His teammates, coaches and Valentine all were on the top step of the dugout cheering for him, and they urged Youkilis to take a curtain call.
Youkilis‘ time in Boston became limited because of the play of rookie Will Middlebrooks, hitting .326 with nine homers and 34 RBIs in 41 games.
“The way Middlebrooks was playing, he needs to be in the lineup every day,” Cherington said. “Bobby’s done a good job of shuffling everyday.”
But the GM said the veteran Youkilis will long be remembered for his hustle and grit.
“He was a very passionate player that played very, very hard,” Cherington said. “He sort of willed himself to being an All-Star and obviously was a huge contributor for us in the middle of the lineup. He did a lot of good things.”
The season started kind of rocky between Youkilis and first-year manager Valentine.