Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia came to teammate Kevin Youkilis' defense prior to Monday's early game against the Rays, following manager Bobby Valentine's critical comments about the third baseman Sunday.
"I know that Youk plays as hard as anybody I've ever seen in my life,"Pedroia said. "I have his back, and his teammates have his back. We know how hard he plays. I don't really understand what Bobby's trying to do. But that's really not the way we go about our stuff here. I'm sure he'll figure that out soon."
Added Pedroia: "We've got Youk's back. He's played his [butt] off for us for a long time. Anytime he steps on the field, he's a great player. We're here to win, and we're here to win with him."
Asked if he thought Valentine's comments could have been meant as a motivational tool, Pedroia didn't sound impressed.
"Maybe in Japan or something," he said, referring to Valentine's stint as a manager there. "Over here in the U.S., we're on a three-game winning streak, we want to feel good and keep it rolling. We feel we have a good team and we've just got to get each other's backs and play together. Because if you don't do that, I don't care what sport you're playing, you're not going to win."
Pedroia said he had not yet talked to Valentine about the issue.
"I'll talk to Bobby and talk to everybody," he said. "We'll figure it out."
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