Bobby Valentine Says Kevin Youkilis Not 'As Into The Game'

The Red Sox manager made some comments about his third baseman that probably should have not been said in front of reporters.

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SI.com: Bobby Valentine Ignored Unwritten Rule

Sunday, Bobby Valentine said something on the radio about Kevin Youkilis he probably shouldn't have said. Monday, I suggested that Valentine's standing as Red Sox manager, just 10 games into the season, had already become tenuous. I didn't really explain why, though.

For that, here's Jason Turbow (via SI.com):

... In baseball, a manager's primary duty away from the field is to protect his players at any cost, usually from the media, at least until the point that a player leaves him no other option. If Youkilis has somehow already reached that point with Valentine, if his manager felt that calling him out in a local television interview was the only recourse left to reach him, well, that would constitute a newsworthy story. Other than his manager's off-the-cuff banter, however, there is no indication that this is the case.

Instead, Valentine and the Red Sox are left to deal with the fallout, which serves to illustrate precisely why managers are expected to be measured in public statements about their players. Now, instead of coming to the ballpark and focusing on the game at hand, Youkilis has to answer questions about his manager's lack of confidence, in addition to questions about his slump. Now, Dustin Pedroia has to step back from his own preparations in order, as a team leader, to defend his compatriot. Now, the rest of Boston's players have to wonder what it might take before their manager publicly questions them, as well. Now, Valentine, the man brought in to help manage a media circus, has added a ring to the big top, and -- inadvertently or not -- is forcing his players to dance through hoops before they reach the field.

In the immediate aftermath of this incident, the Red Sox played nine innings and didn't score a single run. Pedroia went 1 for 3 with a walk. Youkilis didn't play; his replacement at third base, Nick Punto, went 0 for 2 with a walk. We can hardly blame a 1-0 loss on the manager's momentary indiscretion. We shouldn't even begin to think about doing that.

Over the course of a season, though? We don't really know how a manager affects the performance of his players and we probably never will. But we sure do spend a lot of time guessing. We guess that Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox were doing something that made their players better. Not a lot better. Just slightly better, enough that over the course of a season, La Russa and Cox might have wrung an extra win or three out of their teams.

Which are a lot of wins. If a manager can pick up a few wins with his psychological acumen and another few with his tactical acumen, then you've really got something. Most managers, we suspect, don't come anywhere near adding even four or five wins per season. Most are probably right around zero wins; what you want to avoid are the managers who actually cost you a win or three.

And while we really can't measure such things, if Bobby Valentine doesn't start protecting his players, he'll be seen costing his team a few wins this season. Except that won't actually happen, because he won't be allowed to manage for this whole season.

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10 Games Into Season, Bobby Valentine Walking Tightrope

Bobby Valentine's personality wasn't exactly a mystery when the Red Sox hired him last winter. But few could have expected so many issues so soon.

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Bobby Valentine Apologizes To Kevin Youkilis

This might be the most Bobby Valentine quote ever released into the wild:

I was just trying to smooth it over. I guess I didn't.

No, not so much. Valentine made comments that Kevin Youkilis wasn't "as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," and according to an apology that Valentine gave to Youkilis, which the manager recounted at a pre-game press conference, that wasn't how he meant it at all.

"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.

Maybe. Probably not! But maybe. We'll probably all forget about this in a week now that Valentine has made an apology, and only Youkilis and Valentine will know if things can truly be swept under the rug in a town where people like to look under the rug for juicy, juicy baseball gossip.

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Kevin Youkilis Responds To Bobby Valentine's Comments

Bobby Valentine has been interacting with his Red Sox players for about 40 or 50 days now, so it probably makes sense that he openly questioned the physical and emotional focus of Kevin Youkilis. What's that? It doesn't make sense at all unless Valentine thought he was giving an interview to himself in a mirror, like he does every night? Yeah, I can see that. It really doesn't make sense.

Youkilis responded to the comments through Tim Britton of the Providence Journal:

"I don't know. That's not what I see. I go out every day and play as hard as I can -- 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. I still get mad. That's just not how I go about the game of baseball."

Youkilis also reveals that the comments to the media marked the first time he heard Valentine's opinion, and that the subject of being "into the game" wasn't something with which his manager had approached him.

Michael Silverman has a list of Valentine quotes in response to the hubbub and rigamarole in his timeline.

Just say you made a mistake and move on.

Just say you made a mistake and move on.

Man.

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Bobby Valentine Opens Mouth, Creates Controversy

The Red Sox manager made some comments about his third baseman that probably should have not been said in front of reporters.

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