Kevin Youkilis thankful in letter

In advance of his first game in Boston since being dealt from the Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox in late June, third baseman Kevin Youkilis published a letter to Red Sox fans -- whom he described as "the most dedicated and knowledgeable fans in baseball" -- thanking them for their support during his 8½-year run with the team.

Youkilis and the White Sox visit Fenway Park on Monday for the start of a four-game series against the Red Sox.

In the letter, which he released to ESPNBoston.com on Sunday, Youkilis also thanked Red Sox ownership, former manager Terry Francona, former teammates, his family and those who supported his charity, Youk's Kids, which he said has raised more than $3 million "to support the neediest of children in Red Sox Nation."

The 33-year-old Youkilis was traded to the White Sox on June 24, the move made necessary by the infielder's struggles combined with the emergence of Red Sox rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

After his final at bat in a Red Sox uniform, a triple to center field against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park, Youkilis was lifted for a pinch runner and received a standing ovation from the crowd, which realized it was witnessing the player walk off the field for the last time as a member of the Red Sox.

"That final game at Fenway was the most emotional day of my life on the baseball field," Youkilis wrote in his letter. "It could not have been scripted any better."

He hit just .233 with four homers in an injury-plagued three months in Boston, but has turned it on in Chicago. He entered Sunday hitting .316 with three home runs and 15 RBIs, and has had either a game-winning hit or a sacrifice fly in five of the 15 games in which he has played. He was also named American League Player of the Week just before the All-Star break.

Youkilis concluded his letter with a message to kids:

"I can give you my Dad's advice," Youkilis said. "'Life is like a throw to first base -- always aim high.'"