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Bobby Valentine takes a jab at Kevin Youkilis

Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine argues for

Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine argues for a ball to be charged against Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson in the fourth inning. (April 14, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

It took exactly nine games for Bobby Valentine to make controversial comments about his own players.

On Sunday night, Valentine told WHDH-TV's "Sports Xtra" that third basemen Kevin Youkilis is less "into the game."

"I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Valentine said. "But [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 responded Monday morning after he and Valentine met, and told reporters he was "confused" by Valentine's comments and was unaware of the jabs until his agent gave him the heads up.

Valentine apologized shortly before the Red Sox faced the Tampa Bay Rays during the annual Patriots Day game.

“I don’t know if he accepted my apology,” Valentine said. “It was sincere.”

“I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do,” Red Sox second basemen Dustin 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.”

Youkilis, a three-time All-Star, has been hampered by injuries the last two seasons playing in 102 games in 2010 and 120 in 2011. Through eight games this season, Youk is hitting .200/.265/.233 with three RBIs and no home runs.

All this comes as the Red Sox are set to meet the Yankees for three games this weekend at Fenway Park.

Photo: Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine during game Friday with Tampa Bay Rays. (April 14, 2012)

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