By Frannie Carr
Jan. 20, 2012
BOSTON — With the question of whether the Patriots make the Super Bowl resting on the result of this weekend’s high-stakes match-up against the Baltimore Ravens, the local sports news is pretty much all football, all the time. But baseball fans know that it's just a month until pitchers and catchers report to spring training — and veteran Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis is thinking ahead.
True, he acknowledges, "It was definitely a shock with a lot of the things that transpired in September, all different kinds of things that were happening," Youkilis said on Jan. 19.
He could be referring to a number of “things."
Could it be that the team, considered in the early summer to be the best in the majors, failed to win even one-third of its games in September?
Or the revelations that players were drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the dugout during games?
No: “Youk” said that for him, the most upsetting “thing” was the end of manager Terry “Tito” Francona.
"Tito’s the only manager I’d ever played for in the major league, so I don’t know any new manager or how to handle it," he said.
Still, Youkilis said he’s optimistic about his new boss, Bobby Valentine.
"Managers just want you to play the game the right way," he said. "You all have your different personalities on your team and not everyone’s going to be best friends with everyone, but you have to respect each other and play the game right — and I think that’s the biggest thing going in. As long as you play hard and with control, I think it’s going to be great with myself and with Bobby."
Despite this player's rosy outlook, and despite the many weeks to go before Opening Day, some observers have already counted the Sox right out.
That didn't bother Youk at all.
"People are still saying we’re not good enough. And we kind of like that. We kind of like that ability to say — You know what? We’ll prove you wrong. We’re going to win."
In the meantime… go Pats.
Hear more from Youk, including his thoughts on his charity Youk's Kids, on "The Emily Rooney Show."