After missing time during each of his past two seasons due to back issues, Kevin Youkilis failed to attract much attention this past offseason from Major League teams. The 35 year old ended up agreeing to a one year deal to join the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League, but the back woes seem to have followed him overseas according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo.
Youkilis has gotten into just 21 games for the Golden Eagles on the season and is batting just .215/.342/.323 through his first 79 plate appearances. He has just one home run and 11 RBI on the season.
A career .281/.382/.478 hitter over ten seasons in the Major Leagues, Youkilis has admitted that this could be his final season playing unless he’s able to turn things around. The former Boston Red Sox spent the first eight and a half years of his career in Boston, adorning himself to fans before his struggles caught up to him during the 2012 season. The Red Sox, with Will Middlebrooks ready to step into an everyday role, first shifted Youkilis to a bench role before trading him to the Chicago White Sox in late June. He’d reach free agency for the first time at season’s end, signing a one year deal with the New York Yankees for the 2013 season. His back would limit him to just 28 games with the Yankees, during which he’d bat .219/.305/.343 in 118 PA.
Cafardo also notes that one of Youkilis’ teammates in Japan is Andruw Jones, who previously spent parts of 17 seasons in the Major Leagues. Jones is hitting .228/.381/.561 in his second season in Japan, but has hit 12 HR on the season in just 36 games.