Red Sox first basemen Kevin Youkilis will be keeping a player diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. In this first installment, he discusses his goal for the season, the best and worst parts of spring training, and why he is never going to a Patriots playoff game again. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta)
I'm a curse. In this offseason, I went to the Patriots playoff game. I'm officially 0-2. They win every regular-season game I go to and lose every postseason game I go to. I am no longer going to a Patriots postseason game.
Let's see, what else did I do this winter? I went to the UC [University of Cincinnati] bowl game, which was fun, a good time. That was the most fun I had going to that game, hanging out with some old friends from college, which I don't get to do too much during the baseball season.
I had some charity events. Everything is going good with the "Kevin Youkilis Hits for Kids," which is my charity. You can go to Youkskids.org if you want some more info. We like to do things in the community with underfunded programs and try and raise them up. We're still working on things to raise money. We have 20 runners running in the upcoming marathon for us to raise money. Hopefully they all make it unless they get weaned down with injuries and stuff like that. After the season we're looking to have a big event. We like to have one big blowout each year for the charity. I'm hoping to announce this week something really funny we'll be doing, but I don't want to jinx it until everything is in place.
We've got a lot of depth on this team. A lot of good players we picked up. Guys we have on our bench that are everyday players in the major leagues that are now bench players here. With injuries and stuff, they're guys that can step in and be everyday players, which is really key. We have some great pitching. As long as everyone stays healthy, I think we'll contend to try and win the AL East. For myself, I just want to win a World Series. I think that's the biggest accomplishment. Everything else just plays itself out.
For me, I just want to stay healthy and not go on the DL. I went on the DL one time last year and hopefully I never have to do that again. It's a good thing knowing that I'm at one position this year at first base. Though I'll probably play third base a few times to give Adrian [Beltre] a breather and Victor [Martinez] will probably play first to get a breather from catching. It will be good not having to switch back every other day or two days on, two days off. It's mentally easier to go out there and know I'm playing one position.
I kept in shape by working out with Eric Cressey at Cressey's Performance in Hudson, Mass. He got me on a routine and kicked me into shape. He got me stronger than I was last year. He's done a lot of good for me. But the most grueling thing he'd have me do is sled pulls, where I had to push a sled; that was the worst. Those stink. After you got done lifting, you had to do that. Yup, not fun.
Let me tell you what also isn't fun. The worst part of spring training has got to be ground balls because you've got to take so many ground balls. It's endless. These fields are a little choppy, so you get some bad hops. You know, ground ball after ground ball after ground ball, it just gets boring. A lot of us, we just like to hit and we play a position so we can hit. So I'd have to say ground balls are probably the worst part of spring training.
The best part of spring training is getting back in the swing of things and being with your teammates. You may be surprised, but I try not to call my teammates that much in the offseason. I try and get away from them a little bit just for the fact that you're with each other for eight months. So I was trying to spend more time with my friends back home. I talked to Pedy [Dustin Pedroia] a few times. I talked to Jason Bay, who is no longer here. I text message with a few guys here and there, but, like I said, we're with each other for eight or nine months. It's good to get that little separation. But I'd say Pedy was who I texted the most. So seeing everyone again is a lot of fun. The loose atmosphere is always a good time. Only playing like four or five innings and then going home, it's always a little bit more relaxing. Everyone is always in pretty good spirits in spring training, that's the best thing about it.
My favorite spring training memory is the first year I made the team out of spring training in 2005. That was my best memory when they told me I made the team. I called my mom and dad and told them and then called my buddies after that. My mom and dad are always the first ones to hear what happens. A week later, I got sent back down! But it was still a good spring training memory because it was in spring training that I got told I was going to make the team.