Notes and news from a week at Hadlock Field and Fenway Park …
KEVIN YOUKILIS returned from Japan earlier this month, leaving his Tohoku Rakuten team because of a foot injury.
It didn’t take Youkilis long to catch up on baseball news in the states, including Mookie Betts and his on-base streak.
“I heard about him,” Youkilis said. “Didn’t he reach 71 games?”
Seventy-one games is the minor league record for on-base streaks held by two former Sea Dogs, Kevin Millar and Youkilis.
Betts, the Sea Dogs’ second baseman and new center fielder, unofficially made it to 71 games, but five were from the Carolina League playoffs last year and postseason games don’t count for records.
Either way, Youkilis was impressed.
“It’s hard to do,” Youkilis said Wednesday during a 10th anniversary celebration of the 2004 Red Sox championship team at Fenway.
But Youkilis made it seem easy, just like he made it look simple when he made the transition from Sea Dogs third baseman in 2003 to major league player on the World Series roster in 2004.
“If you can do well in Double-A, you can move on and do good things,” Youkilis said. “The talent is there in Double-A. It’s about developing and moving on.
“You have to be lucky sometimes. I got my chance because a guy got hurt (Bill Mueller). But to have a long career you’re not lucky, you’re good.”
Portland players have been hopping to the majors, including Jacoby Ellsbury and Xander Bogaerts starting a season at Hadlock Field and ending it in Fenway.
Youkilis, 35, left the Red Sox on June 24, 2012, when he was traded to the White Sox in a deal that made room for Will Middlebrooks, while also moving Youkilis away from the bizarre managing style of Bobby Valentine.
Remember when Valentine, during a television interview, questioned Youkilis’ level of commitment?
Youkilis always has shown a passion for the game but his body has failed him in recent years.
After 2012, Youkilis signed a $12 million contract with the New York Yankees but was sidelined with back trouble, playing only 28 games.
With the back fine this year, Youkilis signed to play in Japan but left the team recently because of foot problems (plantar fasciitis).
“They don’t really have a (disabled list) over there,” Youkilis said. “I just told them to let me out of my contract and I came back to the U.S.”
If Youkilis’ injury heals in time, it’s possible he could return to Japan but there’s no apparent obligation.
Is this Youkilis’ last season?
“I don’t know if I’m ready to say I’m ready to retire,” he said.
JOHNNY DAMON is done, having retired after the 2012 season. He said he has no immediate desire to get back into the game as a coach.
Damon, 40, was a popular presence during Wednesday night’s reunion at Fenway. Damon was asked several times about the 2004 team’s nickname – Idiots – that Damon popularized, although it was Millar who first referred to the team that way.
“Unfortunately that thing took on a life of its own,” Damon said.
That’s an interesting comment considering the book that Damon wrote after the 2004 World Series.
The title? “Idiot.”
THAT 2004 TEAM featured only two homegrown players, Youkilis and Trot Nixon.
Now the Red Sox are a team that likes to build a foundation from within.
That building continues Thursday with the draft. Boston has two of the top 33 picks, Nos. 26 and 33, the latter the result of losing Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency.
Among the players the Red Sox might go after, according to the Baseball America publication, are California high school outfielder Derek Hill, University of Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher and New Jersey high school pitcher Joey Gatto.
HENRY OWENS was an early draft pick in 2011, the 36th overall as a compensation pick for the Red Sox losing Victor Martinez to free agency.
Owens, 21, has pitched well in Portland this year (6-3 record, 2.52 ERA), including his last two exceptional starts, both seven-inning shutouts.
Does that mean Owens moves up soon? Not necessarily.
When talking about Owens, we often make comparisons to another left-handed prospect, Jon Lester, who was 21 when he started for the Sea Dogs in 2005. Lester stayed all season in Portland, making 26 starts.
Counting his time in Portland last year, Owens has made 17 Double-A starts.
TREY BALL is another left-handed pitching prospect, drafted last year by the Red Sox. He was the highest pick by Boston (seventh overall) in 20 years, since Trot Nixon was selected seventh in 1993.
Ball, like Owens, was rushed to Greenville the year after he was drafted, at age 19. Boston must be confident in Ball’s ability to handle adversity; he has an ERA of 8.55 in six starts. He was pulled in his last start after only two outs, on 41 pitches.
JOSH BECKETT was a second overall pick of the Marlins in 1999, reaching the Sea Dogs in 2001.
Beckett, who led Boston to the 2007 World Series title, was back in the headlines with his first no-hitter last Sunday, with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Boston traded Beckett to the Dodgers in 2012 with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, in a deal credited with giving the Red Sox financial room to build a champion in 2013.
The Red Sox also obtained some pitching talent in that trade, including Rubby De La Rosa, 25, who will make his first start for Boston on Saturday night.
IF YOU WANT TO catch up on the 2004 Red Sox, local publisher Tilbury House of Thomaston has a book out – “Idiots Revisited” – written by Ian Browne, the Sox beat writer for mlb.com. Another book – “Don’t Let Us Win Tonight” by Allan Wood and Bill Nowlin – details the four improbable wins over the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: