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Weekend Buzz: Youkilis latest pickup to help transform White Sox into legit threat


Unlike Bobby Valentine, White Sox manager Robin Ventura (right) embraces the presence of Kevin Youkilis. (AP)  
Unlike Bobby Valentine, White Sox manager Robin Ventura (right) embraces the presence of Kevin Youkilis. (AP)  

The Weekend Buzz while you were attempting to determine who is more Amazing, Spider-Man or Kevin Youkilis. ...

1. Midnight at the Oasis: Send your trade camels to bed?

White Sox All-Star representatives were still giddy in Kansas City over their acquisition of Kevin Youkilis, who clearly is destined now for two things: A) Playing the Superhero role all summer in Chicago while, B) Playing the Villain all summer in the eyes of Boston's Lizard King, Bobby Valentine.

After Youkilis won yet another game with his bat Friday night in Kansas City, the story this week still isn't so much the White Sox opening a series in Boston on Monday night as it is Youkilis' return to Fenway Park.

At least, that's the view from the Lizard King's den, apparently, as Valentine ripped Youkilis yet again, telling Boston writers Sunday "I don't think he ever wanted to get over" the manager's comments earlier this year that Youkilis didn't appear to be as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past.

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Wedged in between his game-winning hits, the Chicago view of Youkilis is decidedly different.

The White Sox, tenants of first place in the AL Central, know an opening when they see one. And an underachieving Tigers team has helped pump up Chicago's visions of what 2012 can be.

"I think Kenny is always looking to figure out what he's going to do," first baseman Paul Konerko said the other day in Kansas City of general manager Kenny Williams.

As aggressive as any GM in the business, Williams might be on the verge of pulling off his most unexpected deal yet: As Konerko was saying those words, Williams was ... All-Star-breaking in Egypt?

Might the White Sox be on deck to acquire a stretch-run ... camel?

Sand dunes, comeback tunes. ...

Williams' free-agent signing of Adam Dunn two winters ago and his stunning acquisition of Jake Peavy in July 2009 -- a second-effort putback after Peavy had rejected a trade to the ChiSox that May -- have played huge in 2012.

And his acquisition of Youkilis has been spot on.

Youkilis delivered the game-winning sacrifice fly in Kansas City on Friday night in the 14th inning on the 14th pitch of a hellacious at-bat against Everett Teaford. While the length of the at-bat was notable, the result was just more of the same.

Youkilis produced five game-winning RBI for the White Sox over his first 14 games, most for a ChiSox player over a 14-game stretch since at least 1974, according to Stats LLC.

"That was a big name to go get," Konerko said, adding: "He's good. I don't think it's surprising anybody that he's driving in runs. In Boston, I don't know what happened. He's a good player. He's a World Series guy -- he won a World Series playing in Boston [2007]. If you can play in Boston or New York, you can play anywhere."

Konerko joked that "that's why Kenny gets the big bucks," to make trades like the Youkilis deal. Peavy said "Kenny deserves all the credit in the world for getting a guy like Kevin Youkilis without having to alter our roster."

Peavy also noted the impact of himself, returning from shoulder surgery, and Dunn, returning from a lost year.

"I don't think anybody bought into the thing that we were rebuilding," Peavy said. "We've got some young kids on our team, but every team has young kids who are asked to step up.

"What we were really asking was for veteran players like myself to have years like we used to have."

Chris Sale, now 11-2 after after being the Royals on Sunday, is leading the youth brigade. A lanky lefty whose slider is reminiscent to some of Randy Johnson's, Sale has not surrendered a home run to a left-handed hitter this season.

"We like our chances," Peavy said. "Why not? We're in first place."

2. What would Paul Popovich say? Ryan Dempster is making the Cubs very happy, because he's increasing his trade value with each outing. Saturday, he extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 33, longest by a Cubs starter since Ken Holtzman in 1969. Of course, in '69, the Cubs had other things on their mind than rebuilding at the trade deadline. ...

3. Lyrical Liriano: Dempster, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke ... two weeks before trade deadline, scouts are more hyperactive than TMZ over the TomKat split.

Based on the way he threw Friday in Minnesota, the paparazzi might want to shift stakeout spots: The Twins' enigmatic Francisco Liriano gleamed more than Tom Cruise's teeth in whiffing 15 Oakland A's, falling two short of the club record set by Johan Santana in 2007. Might Liriano go the way of Santana, too -- to the Mets? Both the Mets and Yankees had scouts watching Liriano at Target Field.

4. Coke wishes it were as sweet as the Braves: What a weekend in Atlanta. The Braves ran their winning streak to seven in a row by sweeping the Mets, added shortstop help by acquiring Paul Janish from the Reds, beat R.A. Dickey and watched Ben Sheets earn his first big-league win in two years, since July 10, 2010. Best example of how the Braves can do no wrong right now? A grand total of 11 Atlanta batters walked Friday night ... not one of them scored ... and yet the Braves still beat the Mets 7-5.

5. Even Universal Health Care can't help Dodgers: As the second half opened Friday, the Dodgers accomplished something they hadn't since May 13: Start Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis in the same lineup.

"I'd like to walk out of the break with the club we designed, pretty much intact, and say, 'OK, we'll take anyone on,' " manager Don Mattingly told me during a visit shortly before the All-Star break. "We weren't a juggernaut before. But we put some runs up and were winning. I'd like to say, 'Let's go. This is our team. Are we good enough or not?' "

Hold that thought. On Sunday, starter Chad Billingsley complained of a sore elbow and will have an MRI (and shortstop Dee Gordon is on the DL). Already in on Dempster and others, the Dodgers' needs appear even more acute now.

6. Baltimore chopped: Credit the Orioles for a fun ride, but Jason Hammel's knee injury -- he's expected to miss a month -- is a killer. The Orioles already had dispatched underachieving starters Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Jake Arietta to Triple-A Norfolk. There just aren't that many more starting pitchers in the jar. Next up: Zach Britton will make his first start of the season Tuesday against the Twins. After that? Being that the Orioles issued pitcher Miguel Gonzalez a jersey with his name misspelled ("Gonzales") Sunday ... perhaps they could trot out a couple of starters in jerseys reading "Palmer" and "Cuellar"?

7. Attention, AL Central: Doug Fister allowed one run on three hits over seven innings in beating the Orioles on Friday night, striking out eight and walking none. Mark this down: If Fister truly is back ... then so are the Tigers.

8. You won't find Pirates on Lake Michigan: After dropping two of three to the Brewers, the Pirates now are 7-41 in Milwaukee's Miller Park since 2007.

9. Ozzie Guillen calls out Bryce Harper: What we've learned in 2012 about Ozzie in Florida: He's much cuter when he wins.

10. So long, Kansas City: Great All-Star host city. Kauffman Stadium is one of the most underrated ballparks in the majors. Absolutely beautiful. And highly recommended: The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The American Jazz Museum. Arthur Bryant's Barbecue (the burnt ends!). Gates Barbecue (the sauce!). Jack Stack (the Crown Prime Beef Rib!). Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue (the Z-Man Sandwich -- beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese, two onion rings, Kaiser roll!). Out of this world, all. Hope the Royals start winning soon so we all can return soon.


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