I like this interview with Kevin Youkilis in the Daily News, as he appears totally unwilling to take the bait we usually see laid for new members of the Yankees, especially ones who had a long tenure with another team.
You know the bait I mean: interviews which seem geared toward getting the player to talk about how special it is to be a Yankee and how much different and better and important it is. There’s almost a propaganda aspect to it, actually. The first spring training interview with a new Yankee player is the first chance the tabloids or talk radio get to place the new guy in the True Yankee Continuum.
Here Youkilis, while sounding totally professional about his new team and new challenges, and while handling questions about hot button topics like A-Rod, Joba Chamberlain and The Rivalry, doesn’t lose perspective about his career:
“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, to say I’d just throw it out the window, that’s not true,” Youkilis said. “I’ll always be a Red Sock.”
It’ll be interesting to watch how the Yankees media reacts to and treats Youkilis this season. I imagine there’s a pretty big temptation to play up the Boston-New York stuff. Maybe even to use this quote against him somehow. But to me it sounds like he’s going to navigate it OK. Neither falling into the Yankees genuflection many expect of new arrivals nor allowing himself to be portrayed as some sort of heel.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.