Youkilis confident injuries won't linger
First baseman to wear boot on left foot for two or three days
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Though a physical ailment forced Kevin Youkilis to become the second Red Sox player in less than a week to exit Team USA's World Baseball Classic roster, the first baseman refuses to point a finger at the tournament itself.
"I really wish I could be there in L.A. to help the guys win," Youkilis said. "It was very disappointing for me to come home. But this was something that didn't just start a couple of days ago. This was something that's been going on for a couple of weeks now. I know people ... I've been hearing, 'This the [Classic's] fault. This is a stupid idea, this thing.' It's not. It's a great thing. We had fun. It was a blast. It was an honor to represent your country."
It's just that a mild ankle sprain, as well as mild Achilles tendinitis -- both affecting Youkilis' left foot -- forced him back to Fort Myers, where he will get treatment under the supervision of the Red Sox.
Youkilis will keep his foot in a boot for two or three days, after which time he hopes to resume batting practice. If things go as he hopes, he will be playing in Grapefruit League games again at some point next week.
"It's just something that happened, and in the last couple of days, he started to feel it a little bit and really felt it during the last game, so we brought him back here to get looked at," said general manager Theo Epstein. "There was enough tenderness and inflammation and a touch of Achilles tendinitis that it was the right thing to do, to shut him down for a few days, but it's nothing serious, nothing we're really concerned with at all."
Manager Terry Francona said that Youkilis will be examined by Dr. Peter Asnis on Saturday before the club makes a specific determination as to when he will return to game action.
In essence, Youkilis hopes to have a progression similar to that of teammate Dustin Pedroia, who returned to camp on March 14 with a lower left abdominal strain and will be back in the batting order on Friday.
Though Youkilis did confess that the postgame "dogpiling" in the aftermath of Team USA's thrilling walkoff win over Puerto Rico on Monday wasn't the best thing for his foot, he wanted to make it clear that the Classic wasn't a reason for his current medical condition.
"It's something that started, I think, ever since Day 1 of Spring Training," he said. "I've had tightness, and this foot is the same foot I've had plantar fasciitis in [during the 2006 season]. I've had tightness in it a lot."
Was there one trigger moment when the injury got worse?
"I wouldn't say there was one moment," he said. "I think going out there, hitting and stuff, I think it actually helped me a little, hitting-wise. It made me slow down a little bit and not try to do too much.
"I think, more or less, it was running and going side to side and stuff like that, and dogpiling and running around. Having so much fun doing that, that was not the brightest idea. But when you have your adrenaline up, you can do a lot of things."
Perhaps, he noted, one thing that could cut down on injuries in future World Baseball Classics would be to minimize the travel.
"The only complaint I have is the format, the fact that there's a lot of off-days, travel days," he said. "I think the [Classic] would be better off if it was one venue, all 16 teams all in one spot. You're not moving around, you're not traveling. You just jam those games up. It might be tough to do with security and bringing fans in and out. But it would probably be a better idea to have one venue than all the different venues it's at. But like I said, four years from now, they'll probably have a better format than they did the last time around."
Though Youkilis admits that he sometimes conceals injuries to a fault, he knew he couldn't hide this one from the Red Sox any longer.
"This is something that I had to do," he said. "I had to come home. It's not easy for me to walk away from playing baseball ever, especially with Team USA. But this was something that's in the best interest of the Red Sox and the best interest of myself going further, because this year is about playing with the Boston Red Sox and winning a championship."
"There obviously was some concern on his side if he said something," Francona said. "We're glad he spoke up so we could get it taken care of now, so it doesn't linger into the season."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.