Youkilis calls playing in WBC 'awesome'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kevin Youkilis enjoyed the World Baseball Classic, even though injuries to his foot and ankle knocked him out of the tournament.

"It definitely was an awesome experience," the Boston first baseman said Thursday. "I'd recommend it for all the guys in, I guess, four years from now, to totally do it. I had a blast. I had a great time."

Youkilis left Team USA on Wednesday during the second round of the WBC because of a mild left ankle sprain and mild Achilles' tendinitis in his left foot. He will miss the semifinals this weekend in Los Angeles, too.

The slugger was back at Red Sox camp Thursday, wearing a hard plastic boot on his ailing foot.

"It was very disappointing for me to come home. But this was something that didn't just start a couple days ago. This was something that's been going on for a couple weeks now," Youkilis said. "I know people -- I've been hearing that this is the WBC'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."

Youkilis said his foot, the same one in which he had plantar fasciitis in 2006, had been bothering him since the start of spring training.

"I've had tightness in [it] a lot," he said. "It's not an injury injury where you have to get surgery or something like that. It's just some days are better than others.

"A lot of times at the field you'll be playing on a hard surface. The turf in Toronto probably didn't help it out all that much. But it's just one of those things during the season when you're playing, some days you get those nice soft fields when it rains and kind of helps out your foot.

"But one of those things with your ankles is, you've got cleats on. It's different if you're just wearing nice tennis shoes every day, and my foot probably wouldn't hurt as much. But when you put cleats on, has a little discomfort and that's just the major concern right now, is trying to get all that little bit of swelling and the tendinitis in there just to go down, and hopefully it will go away."

Youkilis had an MRI on his foot Wednesday night in Fort Myers, but Boston general manager Theo Epstein didn't sound concerned.

"It was no big deal at all, not even really symptomatic. It's just something that happened, and in the last couple of days, 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," Epstein said. "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."

Youkilis will wear the plastic boot for at least a couple of days.

"He got the MRI and everything came back -- structurally he's OK. He does have kind of a hot spot back there that we need to cool down," manager Terry Francona said.

Youkilis will be examined by team doctor Pete Asnis.

"He's coming down Saturday. So we won't do anything until Saturday. He'll be examined and they'll let us know what we can do from there," Francona said. "I'm sure he's going to be able to play catch, he might be able to hit a little bit in the cage. As far as being on the field, we won't touch him until he gets looked at by Pete."

Youkilis was the second Red Sox player to return from the WBC with an injury. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia came back with a lower left abdominal strain.

Francona said Pedroia, who returned to Fort Myers from Miami on Saturday night, is scheduled to play Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"Pedey will probably get two at-bats," Francona said. "He'll take [batting practice] Saturday and then maybe get three at-bats on Sunday. He's doing fine."

Asked if he blamed participation in the WBC and the timing of the tournament for the injuries to Pedroia, the reigning AL MVP, and Youkilis, who finished third in MVP voting last season, Epstein replied: "I think people can reach their own conclusions about that."

Asked what his own conclusion were, Epstein said, "I don't care to tell you guys."

Youkilis, however, did not blame the WBC. He said if he could change anything, he would just alter the format of the tournament.

"The only complaint I have is the format, the fact that there's a lot of off days, travel days," he said. "We talked about this and discussed about it. Everything was great. I loved every part of the WBC. I loved the guys on the team. Everyone was great. It's just to me, personally, I think the WBC 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."