Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Kevin Youkilis on Bradford & Drellich: 'Some guys really can't handle' Boston

Brooks Sutherland
July 31, 2017 - 10:03 am

Former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis returned to Fenway Park alongside 20 former teammates as the organization honored the 10-year anniversary of its 2007 World Series championship before Sunday’s game against the Royals.

Prior to the game, Youkilis stopped to talk with Rob Bradford and Evan Drellich about the 2007 championship, if the Red Sox had a better team in 2008 than in 2007, and how playing in Boston is tough for some players.

To hear the full audio go to the Weekend Shows on-demand page.

Youkilis, who is currently a special consultant for the Cubs, said that it’s harder for players to play in Boston after being somewhere else, as compared to those who come up though the Red Sox farm system because of the media attention.

He said Sunday the media dynamic surrounding the Red Sox is a real thing and that it takes a certain type of player to play in Boston.

“I think it’s 100 percent true,” Youkilis said in the interview. “I think the greatest thing… and I think when I was here with Theo, was trying to get young talent coming up through the system. When you come up through the system, you feel the energy because you’re watching NESN, you’re playing in Portland, you’re playing in Pawtucket. You have the energy of New England and Red Sox nation. And there is some negativity. You know, even at the minor league level you can see it. And… there’s some guys that really can handle it because… And I can only speak for myself, I can’t speak for other guys—I personally, I’m a perfectionist. I would get mad, because I always wanted to get better. Every day I strive to be better, day-in and day-out. So, I was my hardest critic. So, when other people wanted to criticize me, I was more harsh on myself.

"So, guys like that, Dustin [Pedroia], is a good example of that too. When you have guys that criticize themselves every single day, and it’s not healthy in a lot of ways, but it really helps in that manner. So, when you get those hard nose guys, the Trot Nixons that just want it every single day, that is the environment and the guys you need when you take that field, because you’re everywhere. I mean you’re a rockstar here. You’re the 25th man on the roster? You’re a rockstar in Boston, you’re a rockstar in New England. I think that is the hardest thing. …If somebody ever came up to me right now and asked me ‘What do you think about Boston?’ I would say OK, well, what’s his personality? Does he like this? Does he want to be up there in the ninth inning and want the ball or want to get the big hit? Because, you need those guys.”

On June 24, 2012, Youkilis, still with the Red Sox at the time, was pulled from the game in the seventh inning after hitting a triple off of the Braves’ Chad Durbin. Youkilis was replaced by pinch runner Nick Punto and was dealt to the White Sox, but not before he received a standing ovation from his teammates and the thousands of fans on hand at Fenway Park. He retired in 2015.

Though Youkilis said it was a tough time in the moment, but looking back, he appreciates the sendoff he received.

“It was definitely an awkward moment,” Youkilis said. “But, you know what, at the time, there was a lot of emotions, a lot of frustrations. My wife was eight months pregnant with our first child together. So, there was anger, emotional, and looking back, and it took me a little while to realize that was probably the greatest sendoff you could ever have. Because it wasn’t scripted, it wasn’t put out the chairs and ‘Hey this is the last game here.’ For me personally and the way I play the game and the way I live my life, I think there was no better sendoff I could possibly have. But finally, I’m so glad I got to the point where I really, really appreciated it.”

Here are more highlights from the interview.

On whether the 2008 Red Sox were better than the 2007 championship team: “Yeah, that’s actually a good question. … I blame Japan. I loved going on that trip to Japan, but that Japan trip was uhh… you know there’s no excuses, but I guess I’m making excuses now. …The hardest part was the pitchers had to get ready a little earlier and that’s usually the dagger. …But I mean, like I said, we should have won, you know, we should have played better in that Rays series, but I just think guys, just coming off of the world series win and then having to go to Japan and do all that, it took a toll on us.”

On working for the Cubs: “Yeah, so I go to Spring Training with the Cubs like four out of the six weeks. I go around to some of the affiliates. I was just in Chicago with Theo (Epstein) and Jed (Hoyer) and got my World Series ring, which was unbelievable.”

On getting through the trade deadline in Boston: “The trade deadline, especially in Boston, there’s just so much, and it’s probably more now than ever with all the social media outlets. But you just want to get past the deadline. You want to move on because this is our team and we’re gonna move forward. We’re gonna play the next two months of baseball and hopefully all the way to the end of October. But that was the key for me honestly, was once we had Jason Bay, it was like OK here’s our team. Let’s go out and play. And that’s what happened. I mean, we moved on and that’s the best part of the team, we just moved on from it, went at it, and we started winning.”

On controversies surrounding team this year: “I’ve heard a little bit, but I don’t like to dig and in and like comment on things that I don’t have firsthand knowledge. Because there’s a lot of speculation and a lot of hearsay. And things of ‘He said this’ and you know, unless I was there to hear it, I don’t like to comment on it. But like I said, the healing of all wounds is winning.  You go out and you win ball games, people don’t care anymore. You go out and pitch well, you go out and hit well. … The key is honestly winning. People will love you here if you win.”

On importance of a good clubhouse: “Yeah, a clubhouse is a big deal. But, I always say, there’s a lot of losing teams that have a really good clubhouse. So, it is a big dynamic, but it’s how you get out of it. You’re not always gonna agree with each other, you’re not always gonna be best friends. I’d get that question all the time, ‘Who’s your best friend on the teams?’ And I was like ‘I’ve got a lot of friends around me.’ And there’s a lot of egos and personalities, and now it’s probably worse than ever because you’ve got Twitter and Instagram and all this other social media. But, I think honestly, winning heals all wounds in sports. So, the clubhouse dynamic is important in a way, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. I mean, there’s guys, the Oakland A’s stories from the 70s, where they hated each other, got in fights and they still won. So, at the end of the day, you’ve got to go out every night when those lights turn on. You’ve got to step on the field and play, and if you can’t come together at that time, that’s when it really hurts."