Joba Chamberlain says Kevin Youkilis 'didn't call me back'
It sounds as if Joba Chamberlain and Kevin Youkilis won't be joining hands and singing "Kumbaya" when they meet up as Yankees teammates in spring training next month.
Chamberlain, who has a history of throwing fastballs high and tight to Youkilis, said yesterday that he left a voice mail for his new teammate when the former Red Sox infielder signed with the Yankees in December.
Did the two speak?
"No," Chamberlain said. "He didn't call me back."
So Chamberlain and Youkilis will get warm when they report to sunny Tampa for spring training next month. But there might not be any warm and fuzzy moments between the former AL East rivals. Youkilis was signed to fill in for Alex Rodriguez at third base for at least the first half of the season.
"It's one of those things where you're glad he's on your side," Chamberlain said before the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT) dinner at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. "He knows how to win."
And, thanks to Chamberlain, how to duck.
Chamberlain said his voice message was: "Glad you're on our team. Glad you're on our side and look forward to seeing you and hopefully, we can win one for the good guys."
Asked if he thought there might be any hard feelings, Chamberlain said: "I did everything I could do. I can't control what Kevin Youkilis does. I can only control what I do."
Youkilis said after signing with the Yankees that the Chamberlain issue was behind him. But why didn't he call Chamberlain back?
"Joba called him to tell him it was nothing personal," Youkilis' agent, Joe Bick, said by phone last night. "Kevin not calling him back is not personal, either."
Said Bick: "There's no hard feelings on his part. It's a complete non-issue. The time that this [phone call] happened, it was a very hectic time for Kevin not only in terms of signing with the Yankees but in terms of a number of other things that were going on. I think it was just a matter of timing in terms of it not happening. But it certainly wasn't intended as any rejection of Joba's overture."
Chamberlain said he feels "100 percent" healthy going into spring training. The Yankees are counting on him to help set up Mariano Rivera in a bullpen that welcomes its venerable closer back but let Rafael Soriano go to the Nationals in free agency.
"It's tough to lose somebody like that," Chamberlain said. "We have the guys that can take over."
Chamberlain was presented with the Bart Giamatti Award, which goes to an individual in baseball who best exemplifies the compassion demonstrated by the late commissioner.
Mets pitcher Johan Santana, who was unable to attend, was honored with the Big BAT/ Frank Slocum Award for his financial support and generosity to BAT, which helps members of the baseball family who have fallen on hard times.