- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Kevin Youkilis on Monday morning said he was “surprised” and “confused” at comments made by Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine questioning his physical and emotional commitment.
“Everyone here knows I go out and play with emotion,” Youkilis told reporters in the Sox clubhouse at Fenway Park on Monday morning before the annual Patriots Day matinee. “The only time there has ever been a question is because I've been too emotional.''
Youkilis said he and Valentine talked about it Monday morning, but the third baseman would not divulge what was said. Curiously, Youkilis is not in Monday’s Red Sox lineup, replaced at third by Nick Punto.
Valentine made the comments in an interview with WHDH TV’s Channel 7, recorded before Sunday’s game and broadcast Sunday night.
"I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason,'' said Valentine, speaking in the dugout before Sunday's game and shown on WHDH-TV's SportsXTra. "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."
Youkilis, who found out about the comments from his agent, Joe Bick, at 9:30 p.m. Sunday night, said Valentine had not raised the issue of his commitment before the WHDH interview.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia backed his fellow infielder in comments to reporters Monday morning.
“I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do,” Pedroia said. “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.”
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.
Valentine’s daily pregame press conference is scheduled for 9:15 a.m.
Here is today's Sox lineup:
1. Mike Aviles, SS
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Cody Ross, CF
6. Ryan Sweeney, RF
7. Nick Punto, 3B
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
9. Darnell McDonald, LF
SP --Daniel Bard, RHP