Kevin Youkilis has been all class since the Red Sox traded him away to Chicago. Bobby Valentine, well, not so much.
Taking questions Sunday before Youkilis’ return visit to Boston this week, Valentine said: “The comment I made early, he made a big deal of. And I don’t think he ever wanted to get over it.”
Well, of course he didn’t. His brand new manager decided to go spouting off to the media about his commitment to his team and his job as a whole.
What Valentine said back in April was that, “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.”
Even if Valentine was right about that, blabbing about it was hardly the smart approach. Although it seems Valentine eventually got his way; Youkilis was traded for a very modest return last month.
As for what has happened since, Valentine said he expected Youkilis to produce for his new team.
“I haven’t seen him play,’’ he said. “He’s gotten a lot of hits, played a lot of games. It seems like he’s healthier.’’
Asked if he was surprised that Youkilis appeared healthier, Valentine responded: “Not surprised. As a matter of fact, Maggs (hitting coach Dave Magadan) said he had no doubt if he went somewhere else he’d play better.’’
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.