Youkilis tries to target cause of Yankees' ire
BALTIMORE - Kevin Youkilis was one of the first Red Sox players out of the dugout Friday night after Orioles righthander Daniel Cabrera, on his first pitch after balking home a run, threw a ball behind the head of Dustin Pedroia, touching off a chain of events that led to Cabrera's ejection.
Youkilis has some strong views on the topic, understandably so. He was hit in the head by Yankees reliever Scott Proctor earlier in the season at Fenway Park, resulting in Proctor's ejection, then had two pitches by Yankee rookie sensation Joba Chamberlain thrown over his head Aug. 30 in Yankee Stadium, which led to Chamberlain's ejection and subsequent suspension.
"It's poor judgment," Youkilis said of Cabrera throwing at Pedroia. "You can't let your emotions play into where you might really injure somebody. I know it's frustrating when you have a balk, but you can't justify it by getting angry and hitting somebody.
"To me, that's just dumb. You can't go out there and do stuff like that. If you want to go out and play that game, you're going to get somebody hurt."
With the Yankees due in Fenway Park Friday night for their final regular-season visit of 2007, Youkilis pondered the question of whether he is singled out as a target by them, and if so, why.
"I suppose they don't like me for whatever," he said. "I don't know. Maybe they're mad at me.
"People can say what they want. I've never done anything to that team. I've never said anything to that team. I play hard, I play the game."
What Youkilis does is emote, sometimes on a grand scale. He throws helmets and bats, grimaces at umpires, looks stricken when he hits a ball hard and it's caught. Perhaps, it was suggested to him, that rubs some people - the Yankees - the wrong way.
"They play 'Yankeeography' on Paul O'Neill every day," Youkilis said, referring to the Yankees' practice of showing highlight films on the stadium scoreboard of Paul O'Neill, a beloved former Yankee known for his dramatic mood swings. "So, what's the problem? I've been compared to Paul O'Neill. I know Paul O'Neill. We have the same agent [Joe Bick].
"People find things to hate about everyone. They're not going to like somebody for this reason or that. What are you going to do? I go out and play. I'm emotional. Some people say, 'Oh, he shouldn't be like that.' Other people say that's the best thing about you. So who am I supposed to please?
"I'm here to win ballgames. I play with emotion. Some people congratulate me. Some people say, 'Stop whining about this or that.' I can't please everyone. It is what it is. People who don't like you aren't going to like you."
Of course, it could all be coincidental.
On June 2 in Fenway Park, when he was hit by Proctor, Youkilis was the fifth player hit by a pitch in the game, three Yankees and two Sox. The commissioner's office ruled the next day that Proctor would not be suspended, which, on the face of it, exonerated him of intent.
The day after Chamberlain was ejected, he was suspended two games and fined $1,000 for what Bob Watson, MLB's vice president for field operations, deemed "inappropriate actions."
Chamberlain protested his innocence, but did not appeal the suspension. Derryl Cousins, who was the umpiring crew chief in that series, explained why Chamberlain had been ejected, even though no warning had been issued after the first pitch sailed over Youkilis.
"There is more than a little bit of history between these clubs," Cousins said. "Those were two pretty nasty pitches the young man threw. Up here, you need to be a little better throwing strikes, and we just had to put a lid on it before there was a problem."
The night before he faced Chamberlain for the first time, Youkilis hit a home run off Yankees reliever Kyle Farnsworth. The Sox first baseman reacted incredulously to a question of whether he might have shown up Farnsworth in some way, provoking retaliation from the Yankees.
"Show him up?" Youkilis said. "I don't think I've ever shown anyone up on the field. I've never pimped a home run in my life. I run every time I hit a home run.
"You can ask Kyle Farnsworth if I showed him up. I don't think I did. I'm not one of those guys who's going to pimp home runs, do stuff like that. If they say I'm showing up, I think they're searching."
Youkilis suspects that the 21-year-old Chamberlain might have been prompted to do what he did.
"Joe Torre said to me as he's walking out on the field that it wasn't intentional," Youkilis said. "I saw two balls from a guy I watched on the mound throw balls that are a little up and in but not over the head. It is what it is.
"Maybe someone on the team told him to. You never know in this game. You never know. People know, but they're not going to say. They're not going to put it out publicly, but they know.
"He's a young guy. I don't know him as a person, I don't know how he is, but I don't think he would come in there and do it."
Youkilis has put up good numbers against the Yankees - a .299 average and .452 on-base percentage in 39 games, with 11 doubles, 3 home runs, and 22 RBIs. He says he will approach the series like any other against the Yankees. No point, he said, in anticipating run-ins with Chamberlain.
"For me, it's over with," he said. "I may not face him. I'm not going to step out [against him]. If he hits me, he hits me, we score a run and they get their ERA up.
"Hopefully we never see him. Hopefully we're ahead and don't see him. It's like when we go to Anaheim, we want to see the Rally Monkey because that means we're winning. Hopefully we never get to see him. If he pitches, hopefully we get him and get Mariano [Rivera], too.
"Hopefully we get every pitcher out there."