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 at his first day of spring training that “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 in Tampa, Fla. “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 81/2 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.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi got a big smile when asked about his new infielder getting so much recognition early on with the team.
The manager 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 everyday. I didn’t have a problem with what he said.”
MORNEAU TOUTS HEALTH
First baseman Justin Morneau arrived in Twins camp Friday at Fort Myers, Fla.,, three years removed from his first concussion, seven years away from his MVP season and entering the final year of his contract.
The Twins haven’t played well the past two seasons. They won the American League Central in 2009 and 2010 but are coming off back-to-back 90-plus-loss seasons. Two of their speedy outfielders, Denard Span and Ben Revere, were traded away. The Twins have intriguing prospects such as outfielders Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks, third baseman Miguel Sano and pitcher Alex Meyer in the farm system.
Morneau is eager to see how the team comes together with young players.
“It will be an opportunity hopefully for somebody to take advantage of it,” Morneau said.
Morneau, who has battled concussions since 2010, said he was able to go through a healthy offseason workout regimen.
He pointed out that the return of catcher Joe Mauer and left fielder Josh Willingham is a plus for the team. Mauer hit .319 last year and Willingham bashed 35 homers and knocked in 110 runs.
Morneau hit .267 with 19 homers and 77 RBI in 134 games last year.
Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz said Friday that it was “shocking” and “depressing” to see his name came up in connection with a Florida clinic now at the center of Major League Baseball’s latest drug investigation. … Indians first baseman Nick Swisher has left the team’s spring training camp after the death of his mother. He is expected to be back with the team tonight. … The Nationals and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann have agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration. Terms of the deal were not immediately known. … First baseman Casey Kotchman has signed a minor league contract with the Marlins and is expected to join their major league camp today. Kotchman, who spent the 2010 season with the Mariners, hit .229 in 142 games last year for Cleveland. He had 12 homers and 55 RBI.