Yankees Notebook: Boston tragedy hits close to home for Youkilis

A clean-shaven Kevin Youkilis faces his former team on Opening Day. Credit: Getty Images
Kevin Youkilis recalled his days in Boston when talking about the tragedy at Boston’s marathon on Monday.
Credit: Getty Images

Kevin Youkilis was enjoying a scheduled off day following a quick Sunday night game when news of the two bombings at the Boston marathon broke Monday afternoon. From that point on, the rest of his day was trying to get in touch with the numerous family and friends in the Boston area from his nine years with the Red Sox.

“It turned into a lot of phone calls and worry,” Youkilis said before last night’s game with Arizona. “It was just a tragic day, thousands of people just enjoying it. It’s an amazing feat.

“I’ve been down there on the finish line and it’s an amazing thing to watch these people finish a marathon and then something tragic like that happens. You can’t put into words. We were very fortunate reaching out to all to the people we know that everyone was OK. It was unfortunate that a hundred people are in the hospital or lost their lives. It ate me up a lot.”

Youkilis said he never lived near where the bombings occurred but he recalled former Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon living there at various points. He also said his wife ran the marathon a few times and that on occasion after a game, he would go to the finish line.

“Patriots’ Day, it’s an amazing day,” he said. “For the baseball players sometimes it’s tough to get to the ball field. They close off a lot of streets. We plan ahead but it’s an amazing thing. They bring down the big flag on the Green Monster and the marathon runners are going. As players we’re kind of sitting watching the guys finish and are amazed at how fast they run.

“But the city, it’s the most exciting day of the year in Boston. People are off work, they celebrate it [and] they cheer on these runners. It’s such a positive atmosphere. Personally I’ve never seen so many people cheering on people running that they don’t even know and they give him a boost of energy. It’s a pretty remarkable thing.”

On the Yankee Stadium marquee the logos of the Red Sox and Yankees appeared with the words “United We Stand.” The Yankees also announced they would honor Boston by playing “Sweet Caroline” at the conclusion of the third inning after a moment of silence.

While Youkilis may have the most experience among Yankees with Patriots’ Day, the location is an area the players have gone through either by bus or by foot on the way to and from Fenway Park and the hotel.

“I think when something is familiar to you, it hit you different than if you never been to a place you never recognized,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve been down that street many, many times whether it’s been on bus or it’s been on foot. It’s disturbing. It’s really sad to see the things that go on in this world where we can’t seem to all enjoy each other’s presence and all the gifts that God has given every country.”

Yankees honor Jackie Robinson

Since the Yankees were off Monday, they did not have a chance to honor Jackie Robinson on the 66th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Instead, they did it a day later with all on-field personnel from both teams wearing the number 42 on the backs of their uniforms.

“It’s a special night,” Girardi said. “I think anytime you get a chance to put on the number 42 and support what Jackie Robinson stood for and to support what he went through and all the difficulties that he had to face, I think its special. It’s an honor to be able to wear this number.”

This year will also mark the last time closer Mariano Rivera will wear the number. Since Rivera is retiring after this season, the number will be retired for good. In nearly 20 years of wearing it, Rivera has formed a relationship with the Robinson family.

“I won’t say that I have a relationship with them. I met the family but at the same time I’m extremely proud of what Mrs. Robinson has been doing all these years.”

Rivera also said he has seen the new movie “42” and that he thought it was amazing.

Yankee notes …

» Andy Pettitte reported no pain after throwing about 35 to 40 pitches in a bullpen session. He is still on track to start Friday in Toronto.

» Eduardo Nunez was back in the lineup after being hit with a pitch on the wrist on Friday. He was batting seventh.

» Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre announced that Chien-Ming Wang would start on Friday.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.



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