FORT MYERS, Fla. – When the Boston Red Sox were trying to sign free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira before last season, it seemed Kevin Youkilis would be moved from first to third.

Teixeira wound up with the New York Yankees, and Youkilis kept his spot. But when Boston attempted to trade third baseman Mike Lowell to Texas this winter, Youkilis was mentioned as a potential replacement again.

That’s not exactly the sort of stability most two-time All-Stars would expect. But while many big leaguers prefer to hold down one position, the uncertainty doesn’t bother Youkilis. He’s comfortable at both corners of the diamond, a luxury that gives General Manager Theo Epstein added flexibility.

“I just tell Theo I need a raise every year. I just tell him I should get a bonus in there for how many times I move over,” Youkilis said, tongue in cheek. “But it’s not a big deal. It’s fun, and it’s all about winning. Whatever you can do to help your team win, that’s the key. You can’t really worry about all that other stuff.”

Although he won a Gold Glove at first base in 2007, Youkilis is adept on the other side of the infield. Last year, he had a .998 fielding percentage in 78 games at first base and a .974 mark in 61 games at third.

In his six-season career, he’s played second base, left field, center and right in addition to first and third.

“A lot of times you have to move because there is an injury,” Youkilis said. “It’s not like they’re just trying to get guys in the lineup and flop guys around.”

Youkilis turns 31 on March 15. He approached Epstein this offseason to talk about moves — not only Youkilis’ moves on the field but other moves affecting the team.

“He wants me to be comfortable,” Youkilis said. “I love to be comfortable wherever. I love third, I love first — put me out there. Somebody always says, ‘What would you choose?’ I say it’d be the hardest choice. But I would choose whatever would make the team better.”

And that’s exactly what Youkilis told Epstein this winter.

“If there’s a player that’s coming in, either way I’d tell Theo, ‘Make a move on what you think our team can be better. Don’t make a move just because I want to play third this year or I want to play first this year.’ And Theo knows, and that’s what Theo tells me, too,” Youkilis said.

Last season, Youkilis hit .305 with 27 home runs and 94 RBI. He had a .259 average batting third in the lineup and a .338 average batting fourth.

Like his position on the field, Youkilis’ spot in the batting order matters little to him.

“I think you just stick to your strengths,” he said. “You can’t change who you are just because of where you’re hitting in the lineup. You have to go out there and stick to your strengths and learn from your weaknesses. You don’t really go up there like, I’m hitting fourth today, I better hit a home run or I’ve got to hit a grand slam. You’ve got to go up there and get a hit in a situation or move a runner over.”


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