It's a day of returns in Fenway Park, as both Carl Crawford and Kevin Youkilis make their way back to Boston.
For Kevin Youkilis, of course, it's his first time back in Fenway since he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox in late June. While outside observers have wondered whether or not Youkilis would enjoy a positive reception or suffer the scorn of a hostile crowd, for most of the fan base that seems a ridiculous question. While the third baseman's departure may not have been without incident, given his issue with Bobby Valentine and the natural tension that emerges when a veteran is replaced by a rookie, there's never been any significant acrimony between him and the fans (as evidenced by his final game in Fenway, complete with send-off triple).
In fact, Youkilis probably has a lot more good will going than Carl Crawford right now, despite the latter actually still being with the team. While there's certainly plenty of reason to hope for a return to form for Crawford (down years happen all the time), after his tremendously disappointing 2011, with the left fielder having had no chance to earn love in years past, he'll need to actually produce before Sox fans are really willing to forgive and forget.
With Crawford slotting back into the two-hole, the Sox will be without Daniel Nava tonight, despite his strong day at the plate on Sunday. It'll be interesting to see how the outfield pans out over the next few weeks, but for now it's Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford 1-2 after months of being completely absent from the lineup. With Adrian Gonzalez also playing, the Sox are as close to a healthy lineup as they've been in a long time.
|BOSTON RED SOX||CHICAGO WHITE SOX|
|Jacoby Ellsbury, CF||Alejandro De Aza, CF|
|Carl Crawford, LF||Kevin Youkilis, 3B|
|David Ortiz, DH||Adam Dunn, DH|
|Adrian Gonzalez, 1B||Paul Konerko, 1B|
|Cody Ross, RF||Alex Rios, RF|
|Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C||A.J. Pierzynski, C|
|Will Middlebrooks, 3B||Dayan Viciedo, LF|
|Mike Aviles, SS||Alexei Ramirez, SS|
|Pedro Ciriaco, 2B||Gordon Beckham, 2B|