I don't see how the wheel can be rotated far enough to do any damage..... At any rate, I only needed to rotate a quarter turn to get the socket on it. Alternatively a ratcheting box wrench would work as well.
Regarding the new shaft, there is a considerable difference to the old one. My old unit has a rubber damper/connector section and the greased splines that I'm sure you are familiar with. The new unit has no rubber at all, its all solid. There is also no splines or grease. The sliding section is dry and smooth. Cannot tell how it works without taking it to bits.
You don't realize how much play exists in the old unit until you put the new one in. The old unit has almost imperceptible play in the splined sliding section. The steering feel is MUCH improved, more direct with the new unit. No rubber and no slop. I like! Part #19153614 @$90.00