Kevin Youkilis on teammates leaking info to media: ‘Don’t be a coward’
|10.03.11 at 2:00 pm ET|
On the heels of the Red Sox’ September collapse and ensuing fallout, third baseman Kevin Youkilis checked in with WAAF’s Hill-Man Morning Show and talked about the controversy in the clubhouse that led to the departure of manager Terry Francona.
“It’s been a crazy month and a crazy five days,” Youkilis said. “I’m still in shock. I don’t think it’s really hit in a lot of ways, whether it be just the bad September, Tito resigning. It’s been wild. And the one thing is I think for a lot of the players is it won’t hit us until we walk through those doors in Fort Myers and realize that Terry’s no longer with us. The crazy thing is we’re all going to be walking into a different environment anyways with the new spring training [facility]. It’s going to be a weird couple of months, but I think hopefully this team will get the pieces together and be prepared for the 2012 season.”
Asked if he saw signs that Francona was having difficulty managing this team, Youkilis said: “I don’t know. It was hard to tell. We started out 2-10. Then we had the most unbelievable months ever where we were just winning like it was the easiest game possible. And then we had the month of September.
“I think the biggest thing in all this is the fact that the thing that is upsetting is there’s so much finger-pointing at this person and that person and this and that. But we’re failing to realize that we’re all at fault. I think everyone needs to understand that every single person on the team — everyone from the coaches to the general manager to the front office — we’re all at fault. We always go with the philosophy that we win as a team and we lose as a team. And we all lost. To sit around and blame this person and that person and try to figure out the answers, too much blame will go around. I think we all need to be accountable. We all were at fault.”
Added Youkilis: “Everyone wants to point fingers. And the finger-pointing is going to go beyond right now. It’s going to be huge, and deservedly so. It’s going to happen. When things like this happen in a town like this that is so passionate about their baseball, they want answers. And you know what? Sometimes there is no answer for it. And we can sit around and make up as much stories as we want and say it was this or that, this person did this. I know there’s a story out there that a source on the team — I hope all the players that want to say what they want to say about this year say, ‘Put my name on it.’ Don’t be a coward. Don’t be a guy that’s going to be ‘the source said.’ Put your name on it and say what you’ve got to say if you want to say it.”
Asked if he was referring to the reports of pitchers drinking beer in the clubhouse during games, Youkilis responded: “I’m talking about everything. If people are going to go talk to reporters, be a man. Put your name on it. Don’t go to this media source to try to get this going. Either players, front office, whoever, put your name on it. Be accountable.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On Jackie MacMullan’s ESPN column last week criticizing Youkilis for negatively affecting the clubhouse chemistry: “Jackie MacMullan, I’ve always respected every time she comes in the clubhouse, which this year was maybe three times, that one really irked me. It really irked me for two things. One, she comes around three times a year, so she really doesn’t know what’s going on in that clubhouse. The funny thing was I read this article and it said that I brought up the Jacoby Ellsbury thing — which, this thing is getting more overplayed than anything I’ve every dealt with in my life.
“She came to me because she was writing a story about Jacoby. So, she asked me what happened last year, what transpired. And then I’m sitting down and I read this article, like, I didn’t even mention this.”
On his relationship with Ellsbury: “I have no issue with Jacoby. When this [season-ending] game was over, I went up to him and I said, ‘I just want to tell you that that was one of the most remarkable seasons I’ve ever seen [from] a player. I just want to tell you, I know it didn’t end well, but that was one of the most impressive seasons I’ve ever seen.’
“I think the thing is it’s played out, like everyone keeps talking about that and everyone’s misquoting. And that’s the problem. My philosophy is this, and I will believe in this to my dying day: There should be implemented, which has always been implemented, when you’re hurt, you either go to Fort Myers or you go with the team. And I’m not going to change my philosophy on it. And it’s a matter of opinion. Some people don’t believe in it, some people do. It’s opinion. And it’s not that big of a deal. Everything has been really blown out of proportion
“Quite frankly, I was answering a question about this this year, and I don’t even know why. It didn’t matter. You sit there and you sit back in your locker and you’re like, ‘What is going on here? God, this is a never-ending story.’ ”
On if players were calling each other out in the locker room: “No, I don’t think so. For three months of the season, life was good. Life was real good. And going along with that Jackie MacMullan thing, she said I was a detriment because I was meddling in people’s affairs. The thing that happened was she was in the locker room — and I’m going to set this straight — she was in the locker room and something had happened because one of her colleagues [identified by MacMullan as ESPN's Gordon Edes] keeps on writing stories that are inaccurate about players.
“And the thing I was frustrated about and I keep getting frustrated about is why are there more stories now written by sports reporters that don’t talk about sports? They talk about people’s personal lives, they talk about what’s going on. And then, when they’re not accurate on their stories, one, that’s not fair to the person they’re writing about. But two, it’s not fair to the public. It’s not fair to the fans to get inaccurate stories. They don’t need to be fed inaccurate [stories]. And the problem is, we have no accountability any more.
“Things just get blasted on Twitter, things get blasted out everywhere. And the next thing you know, the story’s out there and the athlete can’t answer the question because, you know what? Either way, you’re better off not answering. … I think that was one of the tough things. I was frustrated because somebody was writing an inaccurate story about one of my teammates. The problem is we all try to stick up for each other. It’s media vs. players. media vs. players, media vs. players. And it doesn’t need to be that way.”
On reports of pitchers drinking beer in the clubhouse during games when they weren’t starting: “That’s something that’s in-house. I don’t even want to talk about it. That’s in-house things that happen, if it did happen. A lot of us position players, we’re so busy playing that we don’t know what’s going on. There’s things that you have no idea what’s going on. You’re so busy playing that you don’t know even half the stuff. And that the funny thing, too. I swear to you, I’m always like the last person to find out things, too.”
On if there is a cooler in the locker room with beer in it: “I don’t know if that’s been put out there in the media what we have or don’t have. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say if there is or there isn’t.”
On if he would care if players were drinking beer in the clubhouse during games: “I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, personally. I don’t think it’s the proper way to go about things, but I also don’t think that’s how you win or lose games. To say that’s the reason why you’re losing games, I don’t think so. But yes, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”
On players being out of shape: “See, the funny thing is is, the greatest player of all-time is Babe Ruth. Right? People are going say whatever, and I’m speaking for myself, I don’t have what you’d call the best body in the world. It’s been well-stated and well-known. I think people are expecting baseball players to look like football players. I’m just going to tell you right now, that’s not going to happen. Pitchers need to have a little more weight,. And they’re going to tell you that if pitchers are skinny and ripped up, they’re going to have a lot of physical issues. I always love that one: ‘Oh, my God, that pitcher looks out of shape.’ I’m like, How are they out of shape? What they’re doing is, they’re going downhill every time. To have more weight, that’s going to give you more velocity a lot of times. That’s not to say that you should be 300 pounds at 6 foot tall. But I think that gets overplayed.”
On Adrian Gonzalez complaining about night games and the overall perception that players are entitled: “I think overall, in talking to guys around the league, I think the younger generation is a lot more entitled. I think that’s going to be something that’s going to go one for years. One of my good friends is the Boston College head coach. He sees it, too, these kids coming out of high school that are just very entitled. I think it’s a generational thing. It’s different. …
“I think one of the big things, too, is you’ve got to keep things relative. I think sometimes fans have a hard time of keeping things relative. Athletes are paid extremely well. I never thought I’d make the money I make today. I’m very fortunate. It took a lot of hard work and it took a lot of ups and downs. It’s not an easy road. I think constantly what we see is we take the human element out of these people. Just because we see $12 million or $20 million, we take away the human element. The fact that people have problems in life. They have family members that might pass away during a season. They might have relationship problems. They might have injuries or illnesses or psychological things that are happening.
“Athletes are human. These things are going to happen. If we were robots, yeah, we could go out there and play 162 games at a high level and everybody would hit .400 and everyone would have an ERA of 1. But it doesn’t happen. There’s human elements. Sometimes it’s tough. It’s tough to bounce back. You’re not feeling good that day and you got in at 4 a.m. and you’re just not feeling it that day and it’s tough. But you can’t use that as an excuse. You’ve got to go out and play.
“I know everyone’s putting this stuff on Adrian. I think he’s just giving an example about a season where all the the crazy games on Fox and ESPN, it can have an effect on players. On the other end, you’ve got to think of it as a player, too, a lot of this stuff is because that why we get paid a lot more in Boston and New York and all these other places. But New York had to go through the same schedule we had to. We can’t use excuses why we win or lose. There’s no excuses. You’ve got to go in the season and you’ve go to know it. The bottom line is you’ve got to win. You’ve got to win. And if you don’t, you’re going to have to face the facts. You’re going to get questions and it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a tough offseason.”
On if Francona gave up on the team: “No, I would never say he gave up on us. Toward the end, you could see it was wearing on him. That September was tough. I think it was tough on every single person involved. Not just Tito. Coaches, players, it was rough. And like I said, there was a lot of stuff put out there in the media. There was so much going on, so much, and it got out of control. That’s what happened with the baseball.
“For me, I had to sit back and watch, and it was tough. I was working my butt off to try to get back, and taking shots and this and that. I’ve never had to get injections like I’ve had this year. I was trying my best, but it wasn’t good enough It was tough to sit back and watch and to feel helpless, that you can’t help.”
On his offseason surgery for a sports hernia: “I’m having surgery tomorrow. So, the best thing is the doctor said, ‘In four weeks you should be 100 percent and ready to do stuff. Hold off on lifting for a little bit longer.’ He told me I could be riding a stationary bike in a week. So, I’m pretty pumped about that. I actually got two new bikes. I don’t think I’ve had a bike since high school. New Balance has been great in giving me some bikes. This offseason’s going to be fun. I’m going to try to turn into Lance Armstrong. I probably shouldn’t say that one.”
On the new Red Sox manager: “I think any manager that gets to come in with the talent that we have will be extremely excited. I think the ton of talent here and guys that are willing to work hard, and we’ve got a lot of gritty guys that go out and play. And that’s just what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to go out and play and not worry about all the other stuff. I think we got a little sidetracked sometimes with worrying.
“I’ve often said that I was definitely worried about things that were put out there about my teammates. Maybe I shouldn’t have been. Maybe I should have been more worried about other things. I’ll blame myself for this season. I didn’t sleep well at all in September. I didn’t get much sleep at all. It was not easy. I blame myself. I think next year going in, we’ll be ready and we’ll bring more excitement to Boston.”
On coach DeMarlo Hale as a managerial candidate: “I definitely think DeMarlo can be a manager in the major leagues. Will they probably go with a coach from this coaching staff? I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you. But you know what? I think if there’s a job open, DeMarlo Hale would be a great guy to have. He’s a great guy. He knows how to relate to the players real well. He has a lot of fun. He can joke around, but he’s also very serious. If any general manager asks my opinion, I’d say he’s great and he deserves a managerial job. But I don’t know how much my word [carries].”
On Carl Crawford’s difficult first season with the Sox: “I think C.C. had a tough time [adjusting to Boston]. I think C.C. had a tough time. I think the biggest thing he had a tough time with was getting moved out of the top of the order so quick and feeling like he had to go 4-for-4 to get back up there. I think he was just trying to do so much. He’s an extremely hard worker. I don’t thin people understand. He works extremely hard. He’s always there to put in a full work day. I think it just ate him up, the fact that he was not performing at a higher level. Because he felt like he was letting his team down and he was letting down a lot of people.
“I hope he doesn’t come with that attitude last year. And if you watch a lot of games, he was hitting balls and getting no luck. And I know that doesn’t make up, and it wouldn’t have made him hit .300 and have 25 jacks. But he definitely was hitting balls hard. It was just one of those years. And he’ll tell you, he had a bad year. You’ve just got to throw it away. And you know what, I bet you he feeds off that bad year and has an unbelievable year last year.”
On next season: “Don’t worry, this team’s going to be good again. We owe it to all the fans out there to win for them next year, because they deserve it.”
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