Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis was early to arrive at the Red Sox clubhouse Monday morning, and he responded to comments from manager Bobby Valentine the day before that Youkilis does not appear as "into the game" as in years past.
"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 in an interview for WHDH-TV's Sports Xtra. "But [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."
Responded Youkilis: "That's not what I see. 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."
Asked if the comments were upsetting, Youkilis said: "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."
Youkilis said he heard about the comments from his agent Sunday night, and there was no prior warning from Valentine. However, the player and manager did meet Monday morning.
"We talked," Youkilis said. "Everything, whatever we talk about stays inside that room."
Youkilis, 33, is hitting .200 with a .265 OBP, .233 slugging mark and .498 OPS this year, though he's 6-for-18 with three walks and two doubles in his last five games. He said he doesn't plan on letting this issue become a distraction.
"I go out and just play the game. It doesn't matter one way or another," he said. "There's things that happen over the years with a lot of different things with baseball. If you're going to sweat everything in life, little things that happen all the time -- you've got to go out and play and you've got to play the game hard. For me, it's not an issue."
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