Kevin Youkilis Looks ‘Like a Totally Different Guy This Spring,’ Poised to Bounce Back for Red Sox

Kevin Youkilis Looks 'Like a Totally Different Guy This Spring,' Poised to Bounce Back for Red SoxThe Red Sox are officially in the thick of their spring training schedule and from here on out, it's all baseball all the time for Boston.

With that, comes plenty of discussion points, something that is even more true this season with all of the new faces in Red Sox camp.

Don Orsillo tackles that element and more in the latest edition of his weekly mailbag.

Who will be MVP this season? Red Sox seem to have some candidates in Ells, A-Gon and Pedey.
–Matt, Lewiston, Maine

In the league I am a believer in Justin Verlander again. If he can do what he did last year again, he could easily win again. Among the Sox, your list is as good as any. I do expect Adrian Gonzalez to have even a bigger year this year. I think starting the year with his shoulder feeling good is going to make a big difference especially with his power. Jacoby Ellsbury was amazing last year. His power was totally unexpected and it will be interesting to see if he can do it again. Lastly, I never count out Dustin Pedroia in any thing ever. He always has a chance to be MVP again.

Hey Don, Yankee fan here. Bobby V looks like he'll be fueling the rivalry a bit this season. Could you see that happening?
–Frank M., Bridgeport, Conn.

Oh, I think he will. He has experience in that area already with his time as the Mets manager and of course the Subway Series in 2000. I do not think he will shy away from what he thinks and already has stirred some things up with the Derek Jeter relay thing earlier in the spring. I think it's going to be a lot of fun to see what he adds to the rivalry and am looking forward to watching Bobby Valentine manage. He has been very unpredictable and fun so far this spring.

Darnell McDonald had a .309 batting average from July 5 to the end of the season. Why isn't he the presumptive starting right fielder this year if he does well in spring training?
–Vitas, Cambridge

Last year had some ups and downs and Valentine is really taking his time and evaluating each player over the spring. He is aware of each player's strengths and weaknesses coming in, but he wants to see them for himself to evaluate. I'm not sure what the players did last year is going to make much of a difference as to how he views things. I will say that Darnell has had a very strong spring in the games we have done and again is having to prove himself.

How do you think having a new manager and some of the veterans retiring will affect this year’s Red Sox team?
–Christine Chapin, New Bedford, Mass.

It will be very different and already is. It seems so strange not see Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek every day in the clubhouse. The new players they got this off season are all pretty good leaders. I am impressed so far by Nick Punto and Cody Ross. They have very good veteran status and have both been part of world series championships. I also think that Pedroia is an outstanding leader and if there was a captain to be named, I still think it would be him. One of the quiet leaders last year turned out to be Carl Crawford. So no, I don’t there will be a lack of leadership that will affect the team.

How healthy does Kevin Youkilis appear so far in the spring? 
–Tim, Seekonk, Mass.

He looks like a totally different guy this spring. His range has returned and he is moving very well. I am impressed with his range of motion and am glad he is feeling well. The sports hernia surgery is pretty major as Mike Cameron had the same thing the year before. Last year was so painful for him and really gave you a good idea of strong mentally he is to play in that kind of pain. I think this will be a big year for Kevin.

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