FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kevin Youkilis made sure to emphasize, when talking about his injured ankle today, that this is not something that can be attributed to the World Baseball Classic. In fact, Youkilis has felt soreness in the ankle for weeks at this point.
Youkilis's agent, Joe Bick, confirmed that the first baseman has been battling tenderness in his ankle for "a couple weeks."
"It was very disappointing for me to come home, but this was something that didn't just start a couple days ago," Youkilis said. "This was something that's been going on for a couple weeks now. It was nothing. 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. The misconception is that I didn't get hurt just playing in the WBC."
Youkilis said the injury is a continuation of the plantar fasciitis that he's had in the past, notably in 2006, and that the tightness had been there ever since the beginning of spring training. He also said that if he needed to play right now, he could. But there is no reason for him to do so.
"I need time to recuperate, because if I don't stay in this boot for three days this will linger the whole season for me and this is something I had to do," he said. "I had to come home. It was not easy for me to walk away from playing baseball ever, especially with Team USA. But this was something that was in the best interests of the Red Sox and the best interests of myself."
There isn't much to do, other than the normal rehab. Youkilis did say the team might try orthotics in an attempt to lessen the tightness and soreness in that foot and ankle during the season. Right now the plan is to get rid of the swelling and tendinitis over the next few days. It is expected that Youkilis will be in a boot for two to three days, then will hit for a couple days before getting back into games.
General manager Theo Epstein said, "It was the right thing to do to shut him down for a few days, but it's nothing serious, nothing we're overly concerned with at all."
There apparently was no consideration to have Youkilis not participate in the WBC, mostly because he wasn't all that forthcoming about the injury to the team's trainers.
"If you ask any of the trainers I'm probably one of the last guys to talk about if something's bothering me," Youkilis said. "I'm probably not as smart with my injuries as most guys. ... But I really didn't tell anybody because I didn't think it was that big of a deal -- until now."
But, if you can't blame the WBC, there is someone you can blame.
"Dog-piling and running around, having so much fun doing that, I think that was probably not the brightest idea," Youkilis said. "But you know when you have your adrenaline up you can do a lot of things. Not a great decision on my part to participate in dog-piling, running around and jumping around. Probably didn't help it at all. But like I said, it had nothing to do with all of that. Derek Jeter kind of grabbed at my ankle, and twisted it."
(OK, yes, Youkilis was joking in that last part.)