Kevin Youkilis touches base, returns Joba Chamberlain's text message
TAMPA, Fla. - Joba Chamberlain hopes to finally put this story to bed.
Much has been made of the stormy history of the reliever and Kevin Youkilis, a story newly revived about two weeks ago.
That was when Chamberlain, at a charity event in the city, said a phone call made to Youkilis shortly after the third baseman signed with the Yankees went unreturned.
The story made headlines, but Chamberlain said Tuesday, right after it did, he heard from Youkilis.
"He texted me," Chamberlain said outside the Yankees' minor-league complex after a workout. "I'm not going to say what we said but he texted me back . . . It's one of those things, people made it a bigger deal than it was."
At the Jan. 22 Baseball Assistance Team (BAT) dinner in Manhattan, Chamberlain mentioned that he had left Youkilis, whom he had hit before -- and nearly hit -- with a few stray fastballs in previous seasons that led to some tense Red Sox-Yankees moments, a phone message welcoming him to the team.
The message was not returned.
Youkilis' agent, Joe Bick, later that night told Newsday's Anthony Rieber, "There's no hard feelings on [Youkilis'] part," and called the situation "a complete nonissue."
Chamberlain and Youkilis certainly aren't the first players in baseball history to have had on-field issues and suddenly find themselves teammates.
"We're two grown men, we're playing on the same team and our one goal is to win," Chamberlain said Tuesday. "I hope he came over here for that and I would assume he came over here for that. I'm looking forward to him getting in our uniform.
"There's nothing between us. We're on the same team. We're going to play to win. He's going to make a diving play at third when I'm pitching, I'm going to pat him on the butt, and we're going to get it going."
Chamberlain, who has been the center of spring training headlines over the years -- his weight two years ago, a trampoline injury last year -- hopes Youkilis won't get inundated with questions on the topic.
"I don't want him to have to talk about it. I would rather have me knock it out and get it out of the way," Chamberlain said, acknowledging those questions will still be posed to Youkilis when he reports. "He's going to have enough to worry about over here. So let him be, let him do his business. He needs to focus on playing. Let him play. He's going to have questions enough of filling Alex's shoes . . . where do you fit in? He doesn't need to answer these questions, it's ridiculous. I would rather me get it over with, get it done with."
Chamberlain isn't in the middle of any controversies, saying he feels healthy and strong.
He smiled when talking about the signing of Travis Hafner, who had more than a bit part in a previous Chamberlain headliner: Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS against the Indians in Cleveland, aka The Midge Game.
Hafner's two-out, bases-loaded single off Luis Vizcaino in the 11th won it for Cleveland.
"It all comes full circle," Chamberlain laughed.
Notes & quotes: Michael Pineda (shoulder surgery) threw an estimated 25 pitches in a half-mound session . . . David Robertson said he hasn't even thought about the possibility of closing this year. "I expect him to be the same, nasty closer he's always been," Robertson said, referring to Mariano Rivera. "That isn't in my mind. I'm not worried about Mo. I think he's going to come back and do the same thing he's done." . . . Among the players at the complex Tuesday: pitchers Clay Rapada, Phil Hughes, Cody Eppley and Ivan Nova, who figures to battle David Phelps for the fifth starter's job. Of being in the rotation, Nova said he has no doubt "I'm going to be there."