- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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"The one comment alone looks bad," a smiling Youkilis said early Friday morning outside the team's clubhouse. "Let's be honest, I mean, the comment by itself looks terrible, but that was not what it was meant to be."
Youkilis said that after eight-and-a-half seasons in Boston, he can't just erase that from his memory bank, but he and his family could not be more excited about living in New York and experiencing life in the Bronx.
"I'm a Yankee today, and I'm excited," Youkilis said. "I'm proud to be a Yankee."
On Thursday, upon arriving at Yankees camp, Youkilis stoked some fans' ire by talking fondly about the Yankees' historic rival.
"I'll always be a Red Sock," Youkilis said. "To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox, and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house and to say I'd just throw it out the window, it's not true.
"Those were great years in Boston. One bad half-year doesn't take away from all the great years I had there."
Besides transitioning from a former Red Sox to a Yankee, the other main storyline when Youkilis signed for $12 million this winter to replace Alex Rodriguez at third base was how Youkilis and Joba Chamberlain would co-exist in the clubhouse.
Over the years, Chamberlain had repeatedly hit and thrown at Youkilis, once even receiving a two-game suspension. Chamberlain left Youkilis a voice mail upon Youkilis' signing, but Youkilis took weeks to text him back. Finally, the two spoke Friday morning.
"I said hi to Joba today," Youkilis said. "We shook hands. He is growing a mustache. Tomorrow, we'll hug. It will all be fun. Everything is good. Life is good. There is no reason to get all worked up on the second day."
Youkilis good-naturedly handled the flare-up that came from his Thursday comments. He didn't realize his words were making such a splash until he logged on to the Internet.
"I went on ESPN," Youkilis said. "I said, 'Oh my God,' that does not look good. It is one of those things that you have to take with a grain of salt. It wasn't meant to be like that. It was talking about the history of who I am."
Youkilis knows he must win over some Yankee fans who would be skeptical of him, since he was on the other side of the rivalry for so long.
"I think the Yankee fans are going to love the fact that every day I'm going to bust my butt and get dirty on the field and do all that stuff," Youkilis said. "It wasn't meant to be anything like, 'My heart is in Boston,' because honestly it wasn't there. My heart is in New York. I'm excited to live in the city. I'm excited for the whole experience."
After his time with the White Sox, Youkilis has added another dimension to the rivalry. After Thursday, his guard will be back up in terms of how he phrases his thoughts.
"I said, 'Chicago weakened me,'" Youkilis said. "I have to watch what I say. It is all in fun. I think guys are having fun with it, joking around, and trust me, it wasn't meant to be that my heart is in Boston. I know people might take it that way. It was just basically saying that is my history, and I can't take away my history of being a ballplayer. I'm excited about playing against [the Red Sox] Opening Day."
2dKevin Van Valkenburg