Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who has been keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com throughout the season, talks about -- what else? -- all of the team's injuries including his own, as well as leadership and why he's frustrated for Adrian Beltre. (as told to Louise K. Cornetta)
Our team has been really taking on its own personality. I'd describe this bunch as a good group of guys that love to go out and play the game. We play hard but still have fun playing the game, especially when you're winning -- that helps. That's one of the things that has been going well. We have a lot of guys that really care about winning. It's all you really need.
I've been hitting behind Papi a lot lately. I think it's good to know that I don't ever change the way I approach an at-bat no matter who is hitting in front or behind me. I go up there and try to do the same thing and stick to my strengths and stay away from the weaknesses. To me, it doesn't matter how hot or cold a guy is because I try and go up there with the same approach every time.
The injury bug has certainly bitten this team. Let’s start with how I had to miss a few games after being hit in the elbow, right on the nerve. Did it hurt? Yeah, but the reason I stayed off the field was more because of the swelling. There was a lot of swelling from the elbow all the way down. That was pretty rough. It still lingers a little bit, but it's not too bad. You get over it and have to play through some pain, that's part of the game. You're going to have pain and you're not going to be 100 percent healthy. So you've got to try the best you can to play through some stuff. But look, there are times you simply can't play and that's happened to a lot, and I mean a lot of my teammates. Where do I even begin? Dustin breaking his foot is a big loss. Losing anyone who is in our starting lineup is tough. Pedey is definitely one of our players who can pick up the team on a daily basis. He helps out both offensively and defensively. It’s tough to lose him. But Billy [Hall] came in and, it's funny, I think it was the next day, he had a great game in San Francisco. We have some good guys here who can hold down the fort.
So we get through Pedey's injury and then both our catchers (Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek) are out and it's a domino effect. I was shocked. We definitely have had to face a lot of adversity but that doesn't mean we have to give up. There are a lot of guys who will step in and enjoy playing. It's one of those times you have to step in and battle and go out and play the game. You can't mope around because guys are hurt. You’ve got to pick up the slack. For those guys coming off the bench and now starting, they've got to pick up where those other guys left off. But yes, we were all shocked about what was going on with guys going down. It stinks. But like I said, you've got to go out there and play the game still.
I want to talk a little more about Dustin. If I were to describe my teammate, I'd say he's nuts. Nah, really he's 24/7 baseball. It’s his life. He probably thinks about the game while he's sleeping. He probably dreams about the game. He's driven by the game and loves it. He goes out and plays it hard. Being a leader, I think he leads by the way he goes out and plays the game. There are certain leaders who lead in different ways: Some lead by example, some lead by the way the handle themselves. With Pedey he talks a lot of crap. Then you call him out and he'll admit, yeah, I'd probably never say that. That's part of his gig. That's what makes him good, makes him funny because he does stuff like that.
If I had to describe my leadership style, I'd say I lead by example on the field. Playing the game hard, trying to get the guys up and get them excited. I try and lead on the field, that's the best way I can do it. Tito, I guess, recently said I throw my helmet less lately. As you get older you realize more stuff in life, but I think sometimes you need to do it. Some guys may need to blow off steam by going down the tunnel and breaking a bat to get it off their chest. I don't really do that but other guys will do that at times. There are things you need to do, while some guys can remain calm and collected, others need to scream at the top of their lungs or slam a helmet. I release it and get it out because if I were to bottle it all in, it doesn't help me. So I let it all out and then go out and play the field.
Anyone can be a leader. A pitcher can be a leader. A pitcher can lead by example with their work ethic and how they carry themselves on the mound. There is so many different ways to be a leader and to be respected. There are endless amounts of ways. I think our starters do a good job of leading the way. Tim and Josh and both John and Jon do a really good job. Clay is young, so maybe down the road when he gets older, he can take over for those guys.
I've got to say, with all the good players and good guys we have on this team I am surprised we didn't have anyone voted into the All-Star Game by our fans. I think we had low voting turnout. It's one of those things that I was really frustrated for Adrian Beltre because he never made an All-Star team. It doesn't matter about me getting fans' votes because I've been voted onto All-Star teams. But for him to be as low as fourth at his position in the voting while he's having such a great year, definitely hurts. He's done a lot for Red Sox Nation and deserves to be an All-Star. He plays the right way and plays hard. Maybe next year, we'll have better voter turnout by our fans.
As for me, I'd love to make the All-Star team. It would be great, but it's out of my power. You just try and go out and play the game. The way the All-Star voting works, you just have to go out and play the game and hope that people vote for you and go out and have a good time.
Editor's note: Youkilis is one of five players in the running for the final spot on the AL All-Star team, to be determined by fan voting on mlb.com. Vote for Youk here!