BOSTON -- A veteran trio that represented the heart of Red Sox Nation -- Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis -- is down to a duo.
Pedroia wasn't afraid to say he loves Youkilis, the player who until Sunday was the club's second-longest-tenured player. Boston traded Youkilis to the White Sox after a 9-4 win to the Braves, bringing an end to the 33-year-old's nine seasons with the team.
"I said I loved him, man, and I'll see him in July," Pedroia said. "We play them in July. I'll see him soon."
Chicago visits Fenway Park less than a month from now in a four-game series from July 16-19.
"He pushes me every day," Pedroia said. "I want to go out and play hard just like he does. He's always out there trying his best to do whatever he can to help us win. [I] appreciate him so much for that."
The outpouring of affection Youkilis received after tripling in his last at-bat with the team did not touch only him, but the other players as well. Cody Ross, a teammate of Youkilis' for just this season, understood the gravity of the day for Youkilis, who played 953 games here.
"It brought a tear to my eye, that's for sure," said Ross, who homered twice Sunday. "Just to see him run off and tip his hat, he had tears in his eyes. I had goosebumps. It was a special time. I know how much he means to this city. He won two World Series here. He played his heart and soul out every day. He's just a great teammate, and he's going to be missed."
Nick Punto is a longtime friend of Youkilis, despite also joining the team this season, and he pinch-ran for Youkilis after the triple. For Punto, there's disappointment in seeing Youkilis go, but also the knowledge that Youkilis is headed to a better situation: more playing time, less distance to his hometown of Cincinnati.
"You feel for him, but I'm actually excited for him," Punto said. "This is going to be good for him. The way it went down wasn't necessarily the greatest way, but I think he's going to be happier. Get close to home. He's having a baby. He can clear his mind and go out and play baseball."
General manager Ben Cherington, the man who orchestrated the deal, has been a part of the Sox organization as long as Youkilis. Cherington said part of his job was trying to keep Youkilis informed.
"I talked to Kevin a handful of times, I guess, over the last two weeks, including two or three days ago," Cherington said. "I told him that we were considering talking to teams about him and didn't want him to be blindsided by anything. We would try to keep him in the loop as best we could. That's a difficult position for a player to be in."