BOSTON -- Kevin Youkilis is back in town and it hasnt gone unnoticed.
As he walked from the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park to a press conference on Monday afternoon, two female Red Sox employees whispered to each other as Youkilis strode past in his black and white No. 20 White Sox jersey.
Outside on Yawkey Way, a young fan in a Red Sox jersey and cap also spotted Youkilis as he passed an opening in the stadium and pointed. Even the grounds crew at Logan Airport chanted Youk late Sunday night when the two-time All-Star and former Red Sox star arrived from Kansas City with his new teammates.
Youkilis said hes excited to return to his former home of eight-plus seasons.
But as soon as the subject of his departure and disagreement with Boston manager Bobby Valentine surfaced, Youkilis made it clear hes here on business.
Im not here to talk, Youkilis said. I dont understand why this is still a big rift and things are going on. Im just here to play baseball and things will happen and thats all it is, going out and playing the game. Im not worried. Theres no Bobby V. vs. Kevin Youkilis or vice versa. Its about Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox and just playing baseball.
One day earlier and three months after he originally questioned Youkilis desire to play, Valentine fired off more comments about the veteran, noting Youkilis never let the comments go.
But Youkilis stood firm on his refusal to discuss the past.
There have been a lot of great moments, there have been a lot of down moments and a lot of in between, Youkilis said. So Im not going to reflect on those, Im just going to keep moving forward and playing ball and thats what its all about.
Youkilis said one of his favorite things about his new locale is the focus on baseball, that theres less drama than there was in Boston. He also appreciates how his new team has welcomed him with open arms and how hes already considering a return to the club next season.
Youkilis quickly dismissed the idea, however, when asked if he and White Sox general manager Kenny Williams have discussed the club picking up his 13 million option for next season.
I got a lot more hitting to do to get to that club option, Youklis said.
Youkilis also took several opportunities to mention his love for Red Sox fans.
Teammate Alex Rios said he was impressed how Youkilis handled a barrage of questions for 16-plus minutes.
He addressed it the right way, said Rios, one of several White Sox players who watched the press conference live from the clubhouse. It was well-played.
Youkilis mentioned that as excited he is to return to Fenway, his teammates might be more excited. On Sunday, Youkilis said he believes the fans will give him a similar reaction to the standing ovation they delivered after his final at-bat on June 24 when it was clear he would be traded.
I dont think the fans have anything bad to say about him, Rios said. It makes it exciting. Theres a lot of people who want to see how it turns out.
Reliever Matt Thornton has a pretty good idea how it will based off the way Youkilis was treated in his final game and again on the jet way at Logan on Sunday.
He was a special player for them, Thornton said. The Boston franchise and the Boston fans, they love him. Theres no doubt about it. You saw it when he was pulled out of game with the standing ovation he got when the rumors he would be traded were flying. It was pretty special. They love him. You kind of expect it.