TAMPA, Fla. -- Kevin Youkilis has a message for anyone who might be wondering where his allegiances actually lie. The moment his pen spilled ink on this season's contract, the third baseman said he fully committed to helping the Yankees win the World Series.
Youkilis created a minor stir on Thursday when he told reporters that he will "always be a Red Sock," a comment that raised a few eyebrows now that the 33-year-old veteran has moved to the opposite side of the American League's most historic rivalry.
"I was like, 'Oh man, I've got to watch my mouth here,'" Youkilis said. "I look at what I was saying as more like a baseball card. When you look at it, there are going to be nine seasons [with Boston]. That's why I said that.
"In the context of what I said, if you read it as just, 'I'm always a Red Sock,' it looks bad. But it's not that way. I'm a Yankee today, I'm excited, I'm proud to be a Yankee and I'm proud for Opening Day to play against the team that I spent all those seasons with."
Youkilis said that he found out his comments had gained some steam while clicking around the Internet on Thursday, and he sought out reporters on Friday morning at George M. Steinbrenner Field to clarify what he had meant.
"It's one of those things you have to take with a grain of salt," Youkilis said. "It wasn't meant to be like that. I was talking about just the history of who I am. I went to [Cincinnati], so I'm a Bearcat.
"I'm a White Sock for life, and after this year, I'll be a Yankee for life. I read a quote in [the clubhouse] that says, 'There's no such thing as an ex-Yankee.' I'll be proud to be a Yankee for life after this year, too."
Youkilis said that his new Yankees teammates are already having some fun with the comments, and said he is excited to put the pinstripes on and -- hopefully -- have Yankees fans embrace him this season.
"Trust me, if you know my personality and you know who I am, it doesn't matter what team it is along the way -- I want to beat everyone," Youkilis said. "I want to beat the Red Sox because I want to start off with a win at Yankee Stadium.
"I'm excited. What better way than to open up as a Yankee by playing against your former team? I'll be yelling at Dustin Pedroia across the way. He's going to be at second and I'll be screaming at him when I get on base and run down to second. It's all in fun."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the team was attracted to Youkilis' plate discipline and power, leading to their one-year, $12 million contract offer, and that Youkilis' Boston history has no effect on the contributions he can make in New York.
"I think he absolutely loved playing up in Boston, playing for them at that time," Cashman said. "I think he's also realistic that life moves on. It's a better circumstance and an easier circumstance because he was traded to the White Sox [last June]. He's leaving the White Sox to come to the Yankees."
As long as Youkilis was addressing controversies, he also wanted to offer a progress report on his relationship with Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain after the former rivals met in the clubhouse on Friday.
Youkilis and Chamberlain have had issues in the past, stemming mostly from Chamberlain's repeated pitches at or near Youkilis, but both players said that they have put their history behind them.
"I said hi to Joba today, we shook hands, he's growing a mustache," Youkilis said. "It's all good. Tomorrow we'll hug and it will all be fun. Everything is good. Life is good. There's no reason to get all worked up on the second day."
Chamberlain joked that Youkilis, who is listed at 6-foot-1, looked "smaller than I thought" and said they mostly discussed mustaches -- Youkilis' old one and Chamberlain's budding new one.
"It's one of those things where it's done, it's over with," Chamberlain said. "It's a handshake, and a [fist] pound, and hey, let's get after it."