With the news of Yankees All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez being sidelined until after the All-Star break and as ESPNNewYork.com senior writer speculates, maybe even longer, the one-year, $12 million deal for free agent Kevin Youkilis is taking on a whole new level of importance. Originally brought in to work between the third base and designated hitter spots in the Yankees lineup, Youkilis will now take on an everyday role at the "hot corner" with only an occasional bump into the DH spot. Behind Youkilis, expect an Eduardo Nunez/Jayson Nix battle in spring training to determine the backup/utility infielder role.
Known for his ability to work counts and draw walks (nicknamed "The Greek God of Walks"), Youkilis will have the opportunity to bring his disciplined approach to what is traditionally a disciplined Yankees lineup. While there has yet to be speculation on where he will bat in this lineup, the ceiling for this to be a potent offense will be high and RBI opportunities should be frequent. With his career averages of 16 home runs, 70 runs batted in, and .283 batting average, manager Joe Girardi can comfortably insert Youkilis into a lineup that will feature Ichiro, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Robinson Cano.
More than anything else, Youkilis will enter 2013 reinvigorated after a forgettable 2012 which saw him clash with then-Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, a clash that subsequently led to a trade from his long-time team to the Chicago White Sox. With an opportunity to fortify himself in a high-powered offense without the presence of Rodriguez for an extended period of time, Youkilis will have ample time to potentially rejuvenate his career in this fresh-start scenario.
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