Youkilis hopes it's not his last season in Boston

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Youkilis hopes it's not his last season in Boston

FORT MYERS, Fla. With Tim Wakefields retirement and the uncertainty of Jason Variteks status with the Red Sox, Kevin Youkilis (eight seasons) and David Ortiz (nine) enter the 2012 season as the longest-tenured players.

Were very close to having no 2004 players. I get it, Youkilis said Monday morning, sitting on a bench outside the clubhouse at teams spring training complex.

It is kind of wild that that 2004 team theres only two of us left. And whatever Varitek does, we dont know. But yeah its crazy. I dont know if that makes us seem older, how time flies. But I think its definitely kind of weird. It was fun when Derek Lowe walked in the other day for Wakefields retirement ceremony and saw him, and Wake here, too. Its just weird. But thats just the game of baseball. Guys keep coming and going.

"For us, David and I have definitely gotten a lot closer over the years. Its one of those things we sit there and like Man, can't believe were the only ones left here. But I guess we just got to keep that torch going for as many years as we can.

Youkilis turns 33 on March 15, and how long he will hold that torch remains to be seen. He said he would like to end his career with the Red Sox but is entering the final year of a four-year, 41.125 million contract. The team holds a 13 million option (with a 1 million buyout) for 2013.

The way Youkilis sees it, the ball is in his court. He would like to force the team to bring him back.

I think its definitely a business side on both sides, he said. I think if you dont play to a certain point you have 'X' amount of dollars and if it doesnt fit in that equation, then youre not going to be here. Thats something I cant worry about because thats something for them to worry about.

My whole job is to win ball games. And I know if Im out there starting every day and we win a World Series, theres a good chance I might come back. Thats my whole goal. I know if we win and we win a World Series, its going to be hard for them not to bring me back. And Im going to make it as hard on them to not bring me back as I can.

Asked if he thought of himself as a team leader now, Youkilis replied:

I dont know the whole leader-in-the-clubhouse thing, and all the leader things. I think theres different types of leaders. Theres vocal leaders. Theres guys that are leaders by being the funny guy in the clubhouse. For myself, Im a leader on the field, just playing the game hard and playing the game the right way. In the clubhouse, too.

"A lot of times too its just little things the media isnt going to see around. We talk to guys, young guys and tell them, Hey, dont do this. Dont do that. You are a leader, I think, as the older guys. But I think leading by example is the best way. If younger guys see you acting a certain way, they might follow in that way. So I think you have to act like a professional and do the right things and theyll follow in the right footsteps.

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

BOSTON -- Like most NBA executives, Danny Ainge loves to get as much intel on players before picking them as he can.  
 
And with the No. 1 overall pick, Ainge knows he has to do all he can to absolutely get this one right.
 
That’s why any thoughts he had of drafting Lonzo Ball are likely out the window after the talented UCLA guard refused to work out for the Celtics.
 
“We tried to get him in for a workout and he politely said no,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.
 
Lonzo Ball’s desire (or his dad Lavar Ball’s desire; hard to say who in the Ball camp wants him in L.A. the most) to play for the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the worst-kept secrets leading up to next month’s NBA draft.
 
And with the Lakers holding the No. 2 pick in the draft, turning down the Celtics only increases the likelihood of  Boston passing on him and instead drafting University of Washington star Markelle Fultz.
 
“It’s not ideal,” Ainge said of Ball's decision to decline working out for Boston. “Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them. Sometimes players don’t want to come in, not because they don’t like you, they see our roster. They think they would prefer to go to another team.”
 
The Celtics, like most teams, have been mum publicly as to who they would take in the draft. But all indications at this point in the process are pointing towards them selecting Fultz with the top overall selection.
 
And the fact that Ball, the projected number two pick even before the draft lottery order was established, refuses to work out for Boston will only increase the likelihood that Fultz will be a Celtic and Ball and his camp will get their wish which has always been to don a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

BOSTON – From the outset of this season, the Boston Celtics were swimming upstream when it came to getting respect. 

No matter how many wins they racked up, no matter how many upsets they managed to pull off, they were never going to do enough to satisfy the court of public opinion which wanted one thing and one thing only from the NBA: A third installment of Golden State against Cleveland in the NBA Finals. 

The Warriors did their part by running through the West with 12 wins in as many playoff games. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to not just stave off elimination tonight, but continue to delay what so many believe is an inevitable Golden State-Cleveland Final.

Boston’s Al Horford understands that while the league this season has seen lots of individual success as well as teams that have overachieved, the thirst for Golden State versus Cleveland remains stronger than ever. 

“We understand that’s what everyone has been talking about since the beginning of the season,” Horford said. “For us it’s just to focus … and play the Celtic way. And just come out here and fight and we’ll take it from there.”

The Celtics did that in Game 3 with Avery Bradley delivering one of the more memorable shots in the Brad Stevens era, a game-winning three-pointer that hit the rim four times before falling with 0.1 seconds to play as Boston squeaked out a 111-108 win.

Boston did a lot of good things in Game 4 and seemingly went into the half sensing that maybe just maybe they would even up the series at two games heading back to Boston for tonight’s Game 5 matchup. 

But Kyrie Irving picked up the slack for a foul-plagued LeBron James, lifting the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win which puts them now just a win away from advancing to the NBA Finals. 

Not only have folks both in the media as well as fans who have rooted for this series to be over, even merchandise sellers like Dick Sporting Goods have anticipated this series as already being over.

“It is what it is,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It’s been like that all year; a lot of guys counting us out. At the same time, we’re trying to put ourselves in position to win each and every game.”

While that has been the goal, it certainly hasn’t worked out that way in this series. 

Despite Games 1 and 2 being at the TD Garden, the Celtics lost both games by a total of 57 points. 

And while they won Game 3 and had the Cavaliers on the ropes in Game 4 before losing, they know their chance to play NBA Finals spoiler is just about up. 

“We know that’s the Finals that everybody wants to talk about, what everybody is looking forward to,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “We understand it. But we work just as hard as these guys. We just have to keep going out there and working. We’re not going to give it to them, and stuff like that. We just have to make it tough on them.”