Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said yesterday on WHDH-TV’s Sports Xtra that he didn’t think star third baseman Kevin Youkilis was “physically or emotionally into the game.” Youkalis told reporters today that his new manager’s comments confused him.
“That’s not what I see,” Youkilis said, according to WEEI.com. “I go out every day and play as hard as I can. I take every ground ball in the morning, take every at-bat like it’s my last. I don’t think my game has changed at all. I still get upset with myself and still get mad. That’s just not how I go about my game of baseball. Never have, never will.”
“I’m more confused than anything, because I think everyone knows I go out and play the game as hard as I can. That’s just my style of play. I never was blessed with the raw tools … so I’ve always had to use playing the game as hard and with full effort my whole life. I don’t know any better, so that’s just the way I play.”
Valentine took over as the Red Sox manager this season after the team failed to make the playoffs in 2011, despite a massive increase in the franchise’s payroll. Several reports emerged following the club’s late season collapse that certain members of the Boston roster had lost focus during the year. Many viewed the hiring of Valentine, known for his feisty personality, as a move to remedy that problem.
The Red Sox are currently 4-5 this season, and have won their past three games in a row. Youkilis is off to a slow start, hitting .200/.265/.233 with just one extra-base hit.