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Youkilis: Clubhouse 'didn't have best vibe'

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / January 27, 2012
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That the Red Sox suffered from debilitating team chemistry was painfully evident last season. The team collapsed in September and manager Terry Francona soon resigned, saying he had lost the ability to communicate with some of the players.

Third baseman Kevin Youkilis acknowledged last night that the Red Sox “didn’t have the best vibe in the clubhouse,’’ and that contributed to missing the playoffs.

“It was very different,’’ said Youkilis. “It was noticeable early, but when you win, winning heals all the wounds. But we definitely didn’t have the right attitude in a lot of ways.

“We were worrying about things that we shouldn’t have been worrying about and not playing the game of baseball.

“I think this year, with the coaching staff that’s coming back, they saw things we can change. We’re going to all sit down and talk about it and, basically, play the game.

“It’s just playing the game and not worrying about other stuff and the media hype and things that are going on. Because if you’re going crazy with that stuff, it’s going to eat you all up.

“If you just play the game, not worry, not read what’s put out there, everything that’s said, it handles itself.’’

Youkilis spoke before an event at the State Room to support his charitable foundation, Youk’s Kids. Singers Gavin DeGraw and Ayla Brown provided the entertainment.

Youkilis, 32, had surgery following the season for a sports hernia and has spent most of his time in California going through rehabilitation and regaining his flexibility.

He was at Fenway Park this week to get checked by the medical staff.

“I’ve been cleared,’’ he said. “For the past two weeks, I’ve felt great, my whole body. There are little things here and there, this time of year, you have to get going and ramp it up. I’ve started to ramp up as much as I can, and I feel great, healthy, lifting with no restrictions.’’

Youkilis also has been getting to know new manager Bobby Valentine, who attended the event.

“It’s exciting to have him on board. He’s really pumped,’’ Youkilis said. “It’s fun to have him going. It’s going to be a tougher spring training. We’re going to be working our butts off with Bobby. Not that we didn’t before, but I think we’re going to be hitting a lot more of the fundamentals.’’

Ross is on board

The Sox announced the signing of outfielder Cody Ross, who agreed to terms Tuesday on a one-year deal worth $3 million. Ross, 31, hit .240 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs for the San Francisco Giants last season. He was MVP of the 2010 National League Championship Series. Ross reported on Twitter that he was given No. 7, which was last worn by J.D. Drew. A free agent, Drew is likely to retire.

Atchison designated

Righthanded reliever Scott Atchison was designed for assignment to make room for Ross on the 40-man roster. Atchison, who turns 36 in March, appeared in 60 games with the Red Sox over two seasons, with an ERA of 4.08 . . . The Sox extended their player development contract with Single A Lowell for two years, through 2014 . . . Former Red Sox reliever Dan Wheeler signed a minor league deal with Cleveland. He had a 4.38 ERA over 49 1/3 innings last season. The Red Sox offered Wheeler arbitration, which he declined. Because he signed a minor league deal, the Red Sox will not receive a draft pick as compensation.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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