During the off-season, someone who knows such things told me about how hard Kevin was working in Arizona. Not sure if there was even going to be a spot for him on the team, he worked his heart out. When the smoke cleared, he was the team’s starting first baseman. But the team had JT Snow in the background, just in case Youk couldn’t handle it.
Couldn’t handle it? For the first time in years, we have a first baseman who we don’t need to take out in the late innings for ‘defensive’ reasons. Youk is doing it all. As a lead off hitter, he’s getting on base. He getting hits, he’s drawing walks and he’s making some really amazing plays at first.
He’s played three games in left field, ten games at third and 63 at first this year and he only has five errors (four at first, one at third). He has more than shown that he can hold his own – and that he deserves the starting first baseman spot.
He also deserves that spot in the All Star Game…but since it’s in a National League park this year, Big Papi is going to get that call. I love me my Big Papi…but when we’re looking for a superior first baseman, Youk gets the vote.
Today, in the bottom of the 12th, down by one with two outs and a man on second, Youk came up to bat and hit a single that scored the tying run (then ended up on second on an errant throw). Two batters later, Kevin scored the winning run.
Papi had the magic bat, but Youk was the one who made it possible. That will get lost in the box score tonight. Even I automatically went right to "BIG PAPI" when I posted after the game. But it’s unfair to not make sure Youk gets a mention. He was the catalyst for the big win today – and he deserves some major props!
(Another picture taken by me on June 21, 2006)