Monday April 16, 2012 | 10:28 AM

Meant to get this blog out earlier but have been following from afar the Bobby Valentine comments on Kevin Youkilis.

A quick recap: In a taped interview televised Sunday night on a Boston station, Valentine said Kevin Youkilis' at-bats were getting better, but also said: "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason."

Youkilis spoke with Valentine this morning and later told reporters: "I'm more confused than anything. Everyone know I go out and play the game as hard as I can."

Dustin Pedroia came to Youkilis' defense, saying no one plays the game harder and that all his teammates have his back. "I don't know what Bobby's trying to do, but that's not the way we do things here."

Is his normal pre-game media briefing, Valentine said (of course) that his comments were taken out of context when he used the words physically and emotionally.

"I should have explained," Valentine said, "that his swing isn't what he wants it to be. The physical part of his swing is frustrating. Frustration leads to emotion. I haven't seen him break as many helmets as I saw him break on TV ..."

So, I get it. Youkilis has to do better at the plate (he's 6-for-18 with 3 walks in his last 5 games, by the way). And he has to throw more helmets - always a key to success.

Peter Gammons weighed in on the issue later on NESN: "Bobby has to think about this more ... this is a very emotional town ... everything is a firestorm here."

The Sox will play at 11 a.m. today on Marathon Monday. Youkilis is not in the lineup, more because of a sore groin muscle than anything else.

As for the minor leagues on Sunday, here's an abbreviated re-cap from Pawtucket's game.

If not for the Valentine-Youkilis thing, the talk this morning may have been about Andrew Miller's rehab appearance for Pawtucket on Sunday.

First batter: strike, ball, strike, ball, ball, ball - walk.

Second batter: ball, ball, ball, ball - walk

Third batter: strike, ball ball, ball, ball - walk

Fourth batter: Full count before a single

Fifth batter: Full count before a strikeout.

That was it. 3 walks, a single and a strikeout. 29 pitches, 11 strikes.

No word on if Miller threw his glove afterward.

Will Middlebrooks, the eventual replacement for Youkilis (2013?), went 2-for-5 with a double. He is now batting .364 with a 1.014 OPS.

First baseman Mauro Gomez (.325) remained hot with a 3-for-4 game, with two doubles

While Gomez is at first, Lars Anderson is in left field. Anderson (.235) went 2-for-5 Sunday.

I'll be back later from Hadlock Field. The Sea Dogs play at 6 p.m.


About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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