Can we move beyond the sideshow stories involving Kevin Youkilis now?

He has shaken Joba Chamberlain’s hand. Explained his heart still being in Boston. Professed his love for all things New York and Yankees.

So can we get to the only element that actually will matter in 2013: Can Youkilis replace Alex Rodriguez — and we don’t mean on the back pages with outrageous statements or actions?

Youkilis’ final grade in The Bronx will be computed the same as anyone’s: Can he still play? Not whether he was a member of the Red Sox. Not whether he and Chamberlain ever will stroll hand-in-hand whistling “Kumbaya.”

If Youkilis helps the Yankees win big will any fan really give a darn where he spent the bulk of his career?

Did any Yankees fan care where Wade Boggs won his batting titles when he was riding that horse in the 1996 championship aftermath? Did anyone care that Roger Clemens was the all-time Red Sox victory leader when he was helping the Yankees three-peat? Did even the most fervent pinstriped loyalists give two hoots about Johnny Damon’s Idiot past when he was stealing two bases on one play in the 2009 World Series?

If Youkilis is staying healthy and holding his own at third and doing Greek God of Walk things at the plate, Yankees devotees will embrace him. If he doesn’t, the friendly fire that should concern him will not be coming from Joba’s right hand.

Still, Youkilis understood that even silly soap operas have a shelf life, so he wisely attempted to deactivate the drama around him.

He shook hands with Chamberlain in the clubhouse and the two once more declared no lingering bad blood. Will they actually like and respect each other? Who cares? No clubhouse has group love. Besides, neither Youkilis nor Chamberlain carries enough heft in the Yankees world to poison the environment, even if they were at odds. This isn’t like the cold war that existed in the first few years together between Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter that chilled a whole clubhouse.