Around the league, Kevin Youkilis has a reputation for being a fiery, emotional player who rarely holds anything back. His antics don't always go over well with fans of other teams. Or players from other teams. Or umpires, for that matter.
But in Boston, Youk is a much-loved part of the club's core. A home-grown Red Sox star who has been with the organization since he was selected as an eighth round draft choice in 2001.
Youkilis has no illusions about the type of player he is. As he said in a recent interview with ESPNBoston's Joe McDonald, "I don't have to be best friends with all my teammates and I don't have to be best friends with guys around the league, but as long as they can say, 'He plays as hard as he can every day..."
There's no questioning that. Youkilis grinds out virtually every at-bat as though it is a game-changer. He's not flashy and doesn't even necessarily look like an athlete. But his dedication shows through his excellent numbers, and his consistency has become crucial to the club's success.
So when he began talking to McDonald about the possibility of leaving the Red Sox when he becomes a free agent, it got Boston's attention.
"I don't know what their (the Red Sox) plans are past  but I actually think it would be cool, if I don't play here, that there's going to be another guy to enjoy the opportunities that I had," Youkilis said during the interview. "I've been thinking about that a lot. Probably for the first time in my life I haven't worried about if I had to go to another team and it doesn't bother me..."
His words were those of a man making peace with the possibilities. It's difficult to imagine a Red Sox team without Youk, but next season could well be his last in Beantown.
Here are five reasons why.