TAMPA, Fla. – Teammates of Kevin Youkilis were waiting to razz him when the third baseman walked into the New York Yankees clubhouse Friday.
Youkilis made the back page of two New York tabloids for telling reporters, “I’ll always be a Red Sox.”
“I was basically defining that as a player, I’ll be a Red Sox, and a White Sox and a Yankee for life,” Youkilis said Friday. “Three storied franchises. I’m excited to be part of this and be with the Yankees.
“Trust me, there’s no way that was meant to say my heart is in Boston or anything like that. My heart is here with the Yankees.”
After spending 8 1/2 years in Boston and winning a pair of World Series titles, Youkilis was traded from the Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox last June. He signed with the Yankees in December.
Youkilis admitted the comment “by itself looks terrible.”
“I’ve got to watch what I say,” Youkilis said. “It hit me hard.”
Youkilis took part in his first workout with the Yankees on Thursday. “I think guys are having fun with it, joking around,” he said.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi joked that Youkilis maybe missed the Yankees’ media training session.
“I talked to him and I saw his comment,” Girardi said. “You just can’t erase eight years of anyone’s life, that’s the bottom line. I know he’s happy to be here and I know he’s going to bring it every day. I didn’t have a problem with what he said.”
A three-time All-Star, Youkilis figures to be the Yankees’ starting third baseman for at least the first half of the season while Alex Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery. Youkilis agreed to a $12 million, one-year contract.
Youkilis also made headlines during the offseason with Yankees’ pitcher Joba Chamberlain. The two had feuded over high and tight fastballs.
After Youkilis agreed to join the Yankees, the reliever left him a voice mail. Chamberlain said in January he had not heard back, then revealed this month he had received a text.
“Everything’s good,” Youkilis said. “We are all teammates here.”
Chamberlain downplayed the feud.
“He just came over and said hello and I welcomed him,” Chamberlain said. “Like I told you all before, it’s done now. I hope we don’t have to talk about this anymore. It’s over with.”
New York will host the Red Sox in the regular-season opener at Yankee Stadium on April 1.
“I’m excited to play against them opening day,” Youkilis said. “I’m excited to put on the pinstripes, the full pinstripes.”
Youkilis joins Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon as Boston players who made the switch to the Bronx.