Boston Red Sox' Bobby Valentine Calls Out Kevin Youkilis, But Why Now?

Steven GoldmanMLB Lead BloggerApril 16, 2012

Kevin Youkilis in action: his time in Boston may be limited.
Kevin Youkilis in action: his time in Boston may be limited.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

On Sunday night, Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine seemed to call out his third baseman, Kevin Youkilis:

I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason. 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 is off to a slow start, hitting .200/.265/.233, but the Red Sox have won three straight, pummeling the division-rival Rays, and in exciting fashion. In those three games, Youkilis has gone 5-for-13 with three walks and six runs scored. You would think that this would be the exact moment Valentine would least want to rock the boat, but he clearly has a message he wanted to deliver to Youkilis.

It is worth remembering that Youkilis is 33, that he is in the final year of his contract (the Red Sox will face a choice between picking up a $13 million option and a $1 million buyout) and third baseman Will Middlebrooks, one of the top prospects in the BoSox organization, was batting .359 with three home runs heading into Sunday’s action. Middlebrooks will never be the on-base machine Youkilis has been, but he has more raw power.

Youkilis is fragile, expensive and might not be the most fun guy to be around, so you could see why Valentine and/or his masters want to make a change, but the timing of the manager’s outburst is very odd. Despite their difficulties, the Red Sox have every chance of contending in the AL East this season, provided they can stay united through their injuries and not bring their own clubhouse down around their ears.