By Erik Boland
---- — TAMPA, Fla. — Kevin Youkilis said he was “fine,” that he had “no concerns whatsoever.”
The Yankees’ response?
Not so fast.
With an aging roster and having already lost a starting pitcher for a short time and a starting outfielder for quite a bit more than that, the Yankees weren’t taking any chances.
After Youkilis told trainers Monday about feeling “tight” in his left oblique, the Yankees scratched him from yesterday’s game against the Phillies in Clearwater.
“I’m fine,” Youkilis said. “I could have played today and been perfectly fine, but they were like, ‘we’re going to sit you out, it’s Feb. 26.”“
In the last seven days, the Yankees lost Phil Hughes for at least two weeks because of two bulging discs in his back and Curtis Granderson for 10 weeks after a J.A. Happ pitch broke his right forearm Sunday.
Youkilis, 33, has been injury- plagued in recent seasons. A back problem limited him to 122 games for the Red Sox and White Sox last year.
Neither Youkilis nor Joe Girardi sees what the Yankees called a “sore left oblique” as the start of a Nick Johnson-like season.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious, but we’re being really cautious because you can be right now,” Girardi said. “He won’t play today, and we’ll probably re-evaluate him after a couple of days.”
Youkilis didn’t sound like a player who will be out even that long. “I got up today, was moving around fine,” he said. “I wanted to play today, I was perfectly fine to play today. I didn’t feel like there’s any risk.”
Youkilis smiled. “It’s very, very mild, just a little thing that happens,” he said. “I think I kind of learned my lesson, too. Don’t say you’re tight.”
Youkilis said he hoped to play today, but Girardi shook his head and said, “We’ll make him go through some hoops first.”
As for Youkilis’ hint that he might not be as forthcoming with aches and pains, the manager said that would be addressed, as well.
“You don’t want something if it’s really, really minor to turn into something big,” Girardi said with a smile. “I will make that known to him.”
Notes & quotes: General manager Brian Cashman reiterated he will not be pursuing Johnny Damon for the outfield vacancy created by Granderson’s injury. “I love Johnny Damon, he was an awesome Yankee when we had him,” Cashman said. “But that was a while ago. It’s not something we’re going to pursue. That wouldn’t fit our needs.” Cashman said he received a text from Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, on Monday night and said the same.