Kevin Youkilis staggered off a red-eye flight from L.A. at 6:30 Thursday morning, and one of the first sights he encountered in the Tampa airport was a man wearing a Red Sox cap. So what would any right-minded Yankees third baseman do?
"I bought him a coffee and we just talked," he said. The topic of discussion was, of course, Youk's 8½ years with the Red Sox, for whom he was a key member of the 2007 championship team and played 72 games as a 25-year-old on the '04 Curse-breakers.
"I know the rivalry is so hyped-up and all that, and it's part of your life, but it's not defining," he said. "The fans are still going to like you or dislike you in the heat of the moment, but when all is said and done, I’m just another human being who’s going to go through those doors, and some other guy is going to go through them when I’m done."
Just to show that he doesn't play favorites, Youkilis said he also had a beer with a couple of Giants fans at the 2011 Super Bowl. "They were Yankee fans, too, but they were nice to me," he said. "So it's kind of a heat of the moment thing on both sides."
Youkilis said he expects he might get a mixed reception at Fenway when the Yankees travel there to play Boston, but thought that his half-season as a member of the Chicago White Sox might ease his transition somewhat.
"You never know. Some people will be appreciative and some people might not, you know?" he said. "In life, some people see it in black and white and some people see it in grays, so for me, it’s you hope fans appreciate you but you also understand you’re playing on the team that’s the enemy in their eyes. They might cheer you the first at-bat and boo you the next. But it all sounds the same to me."