Youkilis wanted to play for the Reds

By Kyle Nagel

Staff Writer

Saturday, June 14, 2008

CINCINNATI — When Kevin Youkilis awoke on Friday, June 13, he faced a realization about returning to Cincinnati.

"I get to have Skyline Chili," Youkilis said in a tunnel outside the Boston Red Sox clubhouse.

The anticipated lunch was one of the treats surrounding Youkilis' homecoming. The former Sycamore High School and University of Cincinnati player arrived on Friday as the Red Sox began a weekend series with the Cincinnati Reds. When finishing his Bearcats career, though, Youkilis wanted to play for the Reds, enough that some Youkilis supporters were sure to notify the Reds that he was available to be drafted.

"There was another time when a scout asked my college coach if there were any players who were draftable, and my college coach kind of laughed and said, 'You don't know there's a player that you can draft?' " Youkilis said. "That's how the story goes. Ever since then, when my college coach told me that ... it was more emotional right then, because it was around the draft, but now there's a whole different regime here in Cincinnati and totally different people.

"A little bitterness when it all happened, but I can't complain because I have two World Series rings."

Youkilis said 120 friends and family members rented the party deck above the batter's eye in center field for tonight's game. Although the weekend is filled with memories — including the fact that Youkilis attended Tom Browning's perfect game for the Reds in 1988 — this weekend marks his first visit to Great American Ball Park.

"If it was at Riverfront Stadium, it probably would've brought a lot of childhood memories," he said. "Coming to games, eating frosty malts and all that good stuff. This park is a lot nicer."

Kep and Hop update

Infielder Jeff Keppinger (left kneecap) and outfielder Norris Hopper (right elbow) continue their recoveries on the disabled list. Manager Dusty Baker said Hopper is progressing on his Class A Sarasota rehabilitation assignment a little ahead of Keppinger, who will play third base and be a designated hitter before moving back to shortstop.

"The main thing is you don't want him to get fatigued and end up hurting something else, that's what usually happens," Baker said. "You want to get his legs underneath him, get some at-bats, play some third, and after a few days move to short."

Finished trade

The Reds on Friday acquired right-hander Henry Arias from Kansas City to complete a March trade that sent pitcher Brad Salmon to the Royals. Arias, who was assigned to the Dayton Dragons, is 2-3 with a 3.78 ERA in his sixth professional season.

Quick hits

• The Red Sox became the first team from Boston to play a regular-season game in Cincinnati since the Reds beat the Boston Braves on Aug. 28, 1952.

• Entering the weekend, Ken Griffey Jr. had 49 interleague home runs, second to Jim Thome's 53.