For any fans wondering if a little something extra came with Kevin Youkilis' one-year, $12 million deal with the Yankees — namely fireworks between the new Yankees third baseman and his old antagonist Joba Chamberlain — don't count on it.
Yesterday, it sounded like Youkilis — who had officially become a New York Yankee — had put all the bad blood between the two new teammates and familiar old rivals behind him.
"It's not a big deal to me. If it was that big of a deal, I wouldn't be signing with the Yankees," said Youkilis, who received a voice mail message from Chamberlain and plans to return it. "A lot of it has been made bigger with the media and fans. You look at my stats and I have been hit [by a pitch] 99 times. There have been multiple pitchers who have hit me. Joba has only hit me once, [last season as a Chicago White Sox]. It's not a big deal. We are teammates now and we have the same goals of going to spring training and winning."
Much was made of Chamberlain's fastballs zipping perilously close to Youk's head during their days as opponents in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. In 2007, Chamberlain threw two times at Youkilis' head and was suspended. The next season he did it again sending Youkilis to the dirt before he started to charge the mound. Youkilis' Red Sox teammates restrained him.
"It's not a story, it's one of those things people love to talk about," Youkilis said. "It's a new teammate and we are going to take the field together. When he goes out there to pitch hopefully I can play great defense behind him."
Former Red Sox teammate and one-time Yankee foe Johnny Damon eased his friend's trepidation of what it would be like to jump ship from Red Sox Nation to Yankee Universe.
"Johnny said I would love the experience," said Youkilis. "I never thought I would be on the other side of the rivalry but I felt the New York Yankees were the best fit to try and win another World Series."
Yankees fans have got to love this guy already.