Kevin Youkilis Credits Experience, Luck, Mental Strength to Busting Out of Slumps

Kevin Youkilis Credits Experience, Luck, Mental Strength to Busting Out of Slumps When you're a career .292 hitter with a reputation as an OPS machine, slumps don't come around too often.

But Kevin Youkilis is human. He is not immune to the occasional downturn, such as earlier in 2011. Through the Red Sox' first 14 games, Youkilis had yet to record a multihit effort, and his average sat at .190. The team was slumping, too, and it could've been a bad time for the All-Star third baseman. However, having been through the wars in the past, Youkilis never lets those emotional pitfalls get to him, despite the emotion he shows on the field.

"I think the biggest thing is having confidence and just knowing that [the hits are] going to fall in and don't worry about that part of it," he said. "You just have to worry about hitting line drives and having good at-bats and sometimes getting hits isn't what you need to do to get out of slumps, sometimes it's getting on base, drawing walks."

That's one reason why Youkilis' slumps are not really slumps at all. Even if the hits aren't coming, the walks (as well as the defense, the leadership and everything else that comes with his game) are always present. He is a constant contributor.

That doesn't mean that Youkilis doesn't wrestle with things on a mental level. He'll even employ what he likes to call "fake confidence" to offset any stressors that pop up over an 0-for-4.

But that won't last forever. Sometimes it's just a matter of stepping back and reminding himself that the game has a funny way of working itself out.

"This game, as much as it is a skill over the long haul, sometimes you're just lucky," he said. "And sometimes you're not. You're doing everything right, you're hitting the ball hard. You hit a line drive and the center fielder is right there, bam. Sometimes you hit a cue ball off the bat and three people collide and you get a single."

Understanding the ups and downs comes with experience. Those outside the realm of major league baseball sometimes need help in such matters.

The Red Sox do offer assistance. Bob Tewksbury, who pitched for 13 years in the majors, has served for several years as a sports psychology coach in the organization. He works mostly with minor leaguers, but is a rather steady presence in the clubhouse. There are other figures the players can seek out for assistance during a slump.

Youkilis is appreciative of having such resources. Most of the time, however, he finds strength among friends and family when going through a tough time at the park.

"Sometimes outside help is just your friends and not even talking about baseball," he said. "Sometimes it's better not to think about baseball when you get out of here. Just have fun and put it all in perspective, because a lot of times in here this isn't reality — the real world is outside of here. So sometimes, if you put that in perspective and understand it, the better off you'll be to not dwell on those negative things."

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