Youk appreciates past, focused on present
White Sox infielder thanks Boston in advance of upcoming series at Fenway
KANSAS CITY -- Since Kevin Youkilis began his time with the White Sox on June 25, the third baseman's focus has been completely on his present team.
There has been almost no mention of his highly successful years with Boston, especially his turbulent final season before the Red Sox traded him for Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart. But with the White Sox visiting Fenway Park for a four-game series starting on Monday, it's a topic the third baseman couldn't really avoid on Sunday.
Youkilis played parts of nine seasons with the Red Sox, contributing to World Series titles in 2004 and '07. He holds a special place for Boston, but it's a special place in the past.
"All the memories I have and the stories are from there," Youkilis said. "But the thing for me is, I'm making my own story with this team, new stories and a new beginning. It's going to be fun, and the good thing here is we are in first place and we have to keep going and playing well, and stay in first place."
Prior to Monday's series opener, Youkilis released a letter to Red Sox fans through ESPNBoston.com on Sunday morning. The gist of this classy piece of prose was to thank everyone from Red Sox Nation to former manager Terry Francona to those who supported his charity, Youk's Kids.
The thought process for Youkilis was to get a letter out there to thank people for all the great years. Current Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was not mentioned in that letter.
Valentine stated on Sunday that Youkilis never got over a comment the manager made to WHDH-TV about him in early April, that the veteran didn't seem as physically or emotionally into the game as in the past. Youkilis chose to let the comment pass when informed of Valentine's latest sentiment.
"I got nothing [to say] about any of that stuff," Youkilis said. "I'm over the Boston thing this year. There's a lot of great past history, but this year I'm focused on the White Sox."
Konerko expected to rebound at plate
KANSAS CITY -- As of May 27, Paul Konerko was hitting a Major League-best .399. To think the White Sox captain would maintain such a pace would be unrealistic and unfair.
So, the .228 average (31-for-136) produced by Konerko since that point does not have the White Sox concerned.
"It's a pretty tough pace to keep up with," said White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto of Konerko, who still is hitting what would be a career-best .321 with 42 RBIs. "He definitely will have a successful season. What number he'll hit, nobody knows. He'll be productive and he'll have the numbers that he usually puts out without question.
"Right now, it's about timing more than anything. There are a couple of pitches out of his zone that he might have swung at. But it's always a competitive at-bat. He's never far off from what he wants to do.
Manto said the key for Konerko is to stick to a plan, which shouldn't be a problem for a veteran who always is infinitely prepared.
"The plan is to continue to have quality at-bats," Manto said. "Sometimes as players, when they get into a little funk, you have to take a step back.
"You can't go up to the plate and swing your way out of it. There has to be a plan, and the plan right now is to pick a zone and the zone he's looking for and stick with the plan. There's no way he could say I want to get a hit or do this."
Crain targeting return for Minnesota series
KANSAS CITY -- Jesse Crain felt good during a 30-pitch bullpen session on Sunday, although he got a little fatigued at the end, which is expected since the right-hander hadn't thrown for a while.
Next up for Crain, who has been on the disabled list since July 4 with a right shoulder strain, is either another bullpen session or throwing to some hitters on Tuesday or Wednesday. By Friday, Crain hopes to throw in a Minor League rehab contest and then return for the Minnesota series in Chicago beginning July 23.
"From what I felt today, it's one of those things where it's getting better," Crain said. "Now it's just building the strength up again to handle pitching in a game."
Third to first
White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper pointed out on Sunday that starters Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are not the only young hurlers being watched in regard to workload.
"We're watching all of their usage," Cooper said. "In the course of a Major League season, sometimes starters, and sometimes relievers, are asked to go above and beyond the call.
"If they're asked to do that, we'll give them a couple days to regroup. It's part of managing a team and handling everybody and giving them the rest when they need it."
Adam Dunn sits just seven homers shy of 400 for his career after going deep during Sunday's 2-1 victory over the Royals.
Alex Rios has 12 multi-hit efforts in his last 18 games and has a .439 average over his last 16 games.