The “Greek God of Walks” will be laying off bad pitches in the “Land of the Rising Sun” in 2014 after signing a one-year-deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League. Rakuten fans will be desperate to find something new to cheer about after their team’s long-time ace pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka took the reverse route of Youkilis and signed with the Yankees.
Its been less than two years since Youkilis walked off the Fenway infield and into the home dugout for the last time, after hitting a triple in the seventh inning in a late June intra-league contest against the Atlanta Braves. He had just been traded to the White Sox and fans in attendance that day, surmising “Youk” had been dealt, gave him a great send-off ovation.
At the time, he was not getting along with new Boston skipper, Bobby Valentine and had pretty much lost the starting third baseman’s job to rookie Will Middlebrooks. Thus ended a great 9-season run in Beantown, during which the native of Cincinnati won two Rings, a Gold Glove and was named to three All Star teams.
The Youkilis that was leaving Boston however, was not the same player who had topped the .300 mark in batting average three years in a row as a Red Sox. He had serious back problems that hindered his play with Chicago and pretty much wiped out his 2013 season with the Yankees, limiting him to a total of 28 games.
Though he’s heading to the far east in 2014, Major League baseball fans may see more of Youkilis in the future. He recently told reporters he had not ruled out returning after his year in Japan is up.