Valentine, speaking before Boston’s 11 a.m. ET Patriots Day game against Tampa Bay, said Youkilis approached him Monday morning. Valentine said he “totally apologized.”
“I don’t know if he accepted my apology. It was sincere,” he said.
I think the question was ‘It’s not Youk-like the way he’s playing’ … I think that was the question I answered. I should have answered that his swing is not where he wants it to be, his swing is frustrating, it affects the emotion.
— Bobby Valentine
Earlier Monday, Youkilis told reporters he was “surprised” and “confused” by Valentine’s comments, which were made Sunday before Boston’s win over the Rays and aired Sunday on WHDH-TV’s “SportsXTra.”
“I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason,” Valentine said Sunday. “But [on Saturday] it seemed, you know, he’s seeing the ball well, got those two walks, got his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he’ll move on from there.”
On Monday, Valentine said his answer to the question on WHDH was misinterpreted, and that his answer should have been more specific to Youkilis’ swing.
“I think the question was ‘It’s not Youk-like the way he’s playing,
” Valentine said in his pregame news conference. “I think that was the question I answered. I should have answered that his swing is not where he wants it to be, his swing is frustrating, it affects the emotion.”
“I don’t know what the reason is because I haven’t been here long enough. I don’t know why the swing is not where it wants to be and he’s not banging as many helmets. I thought it was rather innocuous,” Valentine added. “Matter of fact, seemed like they were trying to bang him and I started it by saying how good his at bats were that day, his two walks.
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“I should have been more specific, physical is about your swing, emotional is about not being happy when he doesn’t hit a ball off the wall.”
Earlier Monday morning, Youkilis, who found out about the comments from his agent on Sunday night, said he and Valentine had talked about it Monday morning, but the three-time All-Star would not divulge what was said.
“Everyone here knows I go out and play with emotion,” Youkilis told reporters in the Red Sox clubhouse. “The only time there has ever been a question is because I’ve been too emotional.”
Youkilis was not in Monday’s starting lineup, replaced at third by Nick Punto. Valentine said that he is resting Youkilis, who has a sore groin muscle, but will use him as a pinch hitter if needed.
Youkilis was also seen meeting with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington in the clubhouse on Monday morning.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia backed his fellow infielder in comments to reporters.
“I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do,” Pedroia said Monday. “That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. He’ll figure that out. The whole team is behind Youk. We have each other’s backs here.”
I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do. … That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. He’ll figure that out. The whole team is behind Youk. We have each other’s backs here.
— Red Sox second baseman
Pedroia was then asked whether he thought Valentine perhaps was trying to light a fire under Youkilis, who is hitting .200 on the young season.
“Maybe that works in Japan,” Pedroia said, referring to Valentine’s successful stints as a manager in Japan.
Youkilis is coming off a season in which he was limited to 112 games by a lower back strain, hip bursitis and surgery for a sports hernia and hit a career-low .258.
He did not hit well in spring training, batting just .195 with only one extra-base hit, but that was also the case last spring, when he was coming off surgery for a torn thumb muscle and had an even lower batting average, .175.
He went hitless in eight at-bats in his first two games of 2012 and was sat in favor of Punto, who had three hits, in the team’s third game. He was restored to the lineup the next day in Toronto and took another 0 for 4, but the next night had two hits, and in the team’s last five games is batting 6 for 18 (.333).
In Sunday’s 6-4 win over Tampa Bay, Youkilis singled and walked in three official at-bats, raising his average to .200.
Through the team’s first nine games last season, Youkilis was batting just .148 (4 for 27), and finished the month of April batting just .218. But over a 60-game span that took him to mid-July, Youkilis got hot at the plate, raising his overall average to a season-high .288. But injuries then took their toll, and Youkilis lost 30 points on his average by the end of the season.
Youkilis is in the last year of a 4-year, $41.25 million contract that is paying him $12.25 million this season. He is one of seven Red Sox players being paid more than $10 million this season.
The club holds a $13 million option on Youkilis for the 2013 season, but the physical pounding he has taken in recent seasons, plus the emergence of top third-base prospect Will Middlebrooks, has raised questions about whether the Sox will exercise that option.
Valentine apologizes to Youkilis for criticism
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