, Gloucester, MA


February 20, 2013

Youkilis hopes to be accepted in pinstripes

TAMPA, Fla. — At one point during his playing days, Yankees manager Joe Girardi experienced what it was like to cross over and play for the hated rival.

After spending seven seasons in two stints with the Cubs, Girardi spent his final season with the St. Louis Cardinals. Of course, Girardi never told the media on his first day of spring training he would always be a Cub.

New Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis made that mistake last week, telling New York reporters he would “always be a Red Sock.”

“If you read it as just ‘I’m always a Red Sock,’ it looks bad,” Youkilis said a day later after seeking out reporters. “But it’s not that way. I’m a Yankee today and I’m excited. I’m proud to be a Yankee.”

The misstep in words caused a bit of stir as two New York tabloids picked up the quotes and played them big on their back pages. But if the 33-year-old, three-time All-Star can perform like other former Red Sox stars did in pinstripes — Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Johnny Damon, Babe Ruth —Girardi is pretty sure all should be forgiven and forgotten in the Bronx.

After spending 81/2 seasons with the Red Sox, winning two World Series and becoming one of the most hated players in New York thanks to the intense rivalry, Youkilis was traded to the White Sox last June. Once it became evident Alex Rodriguez would miss significant time this season following hip surgery, the Yankees moved fast to sign Youkilis to a one-year, $12 million contract.

While Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery for the first half of the season, Youkilis will attempt to turn his career around. He hit just .235 with 19 homers and 60 RBI in 2012 and posted a .745 OPS — the lowest percentage in his nine-year career.

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