BOSTON — Kevin Youkilis walked up to the plate before his first at-bat in his first game back at Fenway Park and the familiar chant of “Yooooouk” echoed throughout the park.

He briefly said something to Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia before taking off his helmet and turning to all corners of the ballpark to acknowledge the standing ovation, which lasted more than a minute.

Youkilis then lined a single to center off Aaron Cook and scored with some aggressive baserunning.

After the first inning, the team played a brief video tribute for Youkilis and the scoreboard read “Thanks Youk!” Two innings later, he lined a double high off the Green Monster. In the sixth, he doubled to right-center, making him 3 for 3. He finished 3 for 4.

Welcome back to Boston.

“It’s exciting to come back to a ballpark I’ve known as home for a long time,” Youkilis said before the game. “It’s exciting to face some of my teammates that I’ve only faced in live BP.”

Before the game, he recalled his happy moments with the Red Sox but avoided commenting on his time playing under new manager Bobby Valentine.

Sitting in an interview room Monday, wearing his black White Sox jersey and gray uniform pants, he smiled before answering a question about what he expected to happen in his first at-bat.

“It’s definitely going to be living a moment before,” he said. “I think my teammates are most excited. I think they’re more excited than I’ll be. People have been really good to me. I’ll probably see a few (No.) 20 jerseys out there.”

The 33-year-old Youkilis is wearing the same No. 20 he had with Boston. He played 7½ seasons with the Red Sox and was part of the 2004 and ’07 championship teams.

“There’s no regrets. I had a lot of fun and won two World Series,” he said. “I came in my rookie year, won one and won one playing every day. Some guys can’t even say they won one. I was very fortunate to win two.”

His playing time in Boston became limited due to the emergence of rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

But Youkilis didn’t want to talk about his relationship with Valentine. In April, the manager questioned Youkilis’ commitment in his weekly television interview, then apologized to him a day later.

“I don’t understand why this is a big rift,” Youkilis said. “I’m just here to play baseball and things will happen. There’s no Bobby V. vs. Kevin Youkilis or vice versa. It’s the Chicago White Sox against the Boston Red Sox and just playing baseball.”

“I think what I’m doing now is trying to have fun and win,” he said. “There’s nothing else to worry about.”

Having a charity in his name in the area, he said he’d like to maintain his ties to the city he had called home for his entire big league career.

“This isn’t the last of Boston,” he said. “I hope to do a lot of good things off the field.”


CARL CRAWFORD started in left Monday night after missing the entire season with left wrist and elbow injuries.

The Red Sox activated Crawford off the 60-day disabled list before the game and the speedy outfielder went 1 for 3 with a walk. He opened an eighth-inning rally with a walk and scored on Adrian Gonalez’s tiebreaking three-run homer.

Batting second, Crawford singled up the middle in the first inning and later scored on a single by Gonzalez.

“That definitely helps,” he said of his first-inning single. “It helps you relax a little bit more and not worry about it so much, and then it kind of reminds you that you can still do it. So, that was good to get that knock out of the way.”

Crawford was happy to be batting near the top of the order, in a spot vacated with Dustin Pedroia on the 15-day disabled list. Last season, Crawford mostly hit in the lower-third of the order.

“I’m definitely excited about it,” he said. “No secret I like hitting at the top.”

And he figures he can run more hitting up high.

In 2011, Crawford started out batting third in the lineup but was moved down to primarily seventh after he got off to a poor start, batting just .204 with one homer and six RBI in April.

Now he feels he’s got something to prove because of his struggles.

“I’m a big part of a puzzle that’s supposed to win a championship,” he said.


JACOBY ELLSBURY played his fourth straight game, going 0 for 4 with a strikeout, since coming off the DL Friday against Tampa Bay. Ellsbury was sidelined since mid-April with an injured right shoulder.