Kevin Youkilis got the message, but wasn't sending one to Joba Chamberlain by not returning his call, the Yankee third baseman's agent said yesterday.

A day after Chamberlain acknowledged he left Youkilis a voicemail last month in an attempt to heal old wounds — and never heard back — Youkilis' agent, Joe Bick, said it was just a case of bad timing.

"It was in the middle of a bunch of different things going on [for Youkilis]," Bick said yesterday. "There was no malicious intent."

Youkilis last month signed a one-year contract worth $12 million with the Yankees to fill in for injured Alex Rodriguez at third base. As a member of the Red Sox, Youkilis ripped Chamberlain for throwing too close to his head on occasion.

But Bick called the history between the two players a "non-issue" that should have no effect on their relationship as teammates.

"[Bleep] happens," Bick said. "It's just two guys that have been on two different clubs that are extremely competitive."

Terry Francona, who managed Youkilis in Boston for eight years, said the third baseman shouldn't have a difficult time winning over his new fans — despite having spent so much time on the other side of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

"I get that part of it, but they will appreciate that he plays hard," Francona said yesterday at a book signing in midtown Manhattan.

"[Youkilis] never gives an at-bat away, and that will never leave. As he's gotten a little older and he's played the game so hard, his body has probably let him down a couple of times just because he's beat it up so much, but he can still grind out at-bats.

"At worst he will grind out every at-bat. At best he will be a hitter they can hit anywhere in the order and he will give you a professional at-bat every time."

Francona said he wouldn't expect any lingering bad blood between Youkilis and Chamberlain.