With the acquisition of Kevin Youkilis, the Chicago White Sox hope they've upgraded a position that's given them virtually no production.
The entire lineup had issues in their last extended look at the Minnesota Twins' Francisco Liriano.
Youkilis is expected to make his Chicago debut Monday night at Target Field as the improving Liriano starts against the White Sox for the first time since no-hitting them nearly 14 months ago.
The White Sox on Sunday acquired Youkilis from Boston, sending utility man Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart to the Red Sox.
Chicago (38-34) is hoping Youkilis, who won two World Series with Boston, can give it a more permanent solution at third base. After placing Brent Morel on the disabled list with back issues in May, it signed free agent Orlando Hudson and shifted him from second to third.
Neither has provided much. Hudson is hitting .170 with four errors and 11 driven in over 28 games while Morel was batting .177 with five RBIs. The White Sox's overall numbers at third - a .168 average, one homer and 18 RBIs - are all the worst in the majors.
Youkilis had seen his playing time diminish the past few weeks. In 42 games this season, he's hitting .233 with four homers and 14 RBIs.
"I just got off the phone with him, he's very excited to join our club and he's got a little edge to him that I like," White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. "I can't tell you exactly what he said, but he wants to come in and prove some people wrong."
Youkilis is just a .200 hitter (6 for 30) at Target Field.
Chicago needs an offensive spark considering it's scored one or zero runs in four of the last seven games. Pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar drove in the winning run in a 1-0, 10-inning victory over Milwaukee on Sunday as the White Sox took two of three from the Brewers.
After winning back-to-back games for the first time since a nine-game run May 23-June 1, Chicago, which moved a half-game in front of Cleveland for the AL Central lead, will face Liriano (1-7, 5.74 ERA).
The left-hander made a one-inning relief appearance against the White Sox in May, but he threw a no-hitter in his previous start against them on May 3, 2011, in Chicago.
While Liriano went 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA in his first six starts, he has pitched better after spending a few weeks in the bullpen. He's 1-2 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts since, most recently giving up one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
"It's better location and I'm getting more swings and misses and more ground balls," Liriano told the Twins' official website. "It's all about location. I'm getting more consistent and throwing the ball over the plate without trying to strike everybody out."
He'll be opposed by Jake Peavy (6-3, 2.74), who has two losses to show for back-to-back solid starts.
Peavy pitched his third complete game of the season in a 2-1 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday. The right-hander gave up one earned run six days after allowing one run in seven innings of a 1-0 defeat at St. Louis.
Peavy split four starts against the Twins last season, winning both trips to Target Field. He gave up seven hits in 14 1-3 scoreless innings in those outings, while he gave up 11 runs in 9 1-3 innings versus Minnesota at home.
The White Sox, who took two of three at home against the Twins in May, won six of nine in Minnesota last year.
The Twins (29-42), who own the worst record in the AL, took two of three at NL Central-leading Cincinnati over the weekend, rallying for a 4-3 win Sunday. Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer in the ninth after Joe Mauer doubled.
"To get a series win here, hopefully we can carry that home," Mauer said.
Sunday was Mauer's first start behind the plate in a week as it appears he's recovered from a bruised thigh.