New Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine got on the wrong side of some of his players on Sunday

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Valentine questioned third baseman Kevin Youkilis’ commitment.

“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 after Sunday’s game, his comments aired by WHDH-TV.

Youkilis, a career .288 hitter, was batting .200 with no homers, three RBIs and eight strikeouts in 30 at-bats going into Tuesday’s game. He was limited to 112 games last season due to a number of injuries, and hit a career low .258 with 17 home runs and 80 RBIs.

Valentine said on Monday that he apologized to Youkilis.

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

Youkilis spoke with reporters about Valentine’s comments before Monday’s game.

“Everyone here knows I go out and play with emotion,” Youkilis said. “The only time there has ever been a question is because I’ve been too emotional. 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.”

Valentine tried to explain himself in his pregame news conference.

“I think the question was ‘It’s not Youk-like the way he’s playing,’” Valentine said. “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.”

Valentine’s original comments got the attention of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

“I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do,” Pedroia said on Monday. 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, 33, is in the last year of a four-year, $41.25 million contract.

Verlander gets first win: Justin Verlander pushed his manager’s patience on Monday night, but in the end, Jim Leyland had to be glad to let his ace pitcher finish.

With two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth and the Tigers leading 3-2 at Kansas City, Verlander hit Alcides Escobar to load the bases. But Verlander struck out Alex Gordon to get his first win of the season.

“You’re either going to win it or lose it. I’m not taking you out,” Leyland said he told the Cy Young Award winner after the eighth inning.

Verlander threw 131 pitches, fanned nine and retired 11 straight at one point in the game. Brandon Inge hit a two-run homer in the fifth for the difference.

The Tigers star pitcher, who won 24 games last year, suffered a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay and had a no decision against Boston in his two previous starts.

“I told everyone my goal this season is to be a better pitcher, even if my numbers might not be as good,” Verlander said.

Never say never: Just when things looked bleak for the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night at Chicago, they got back into the game thanks to the long ball.

The Orioles rebounded from a 4-1, eighth-inning deficit to defeat the White Sox 10-4.

Matt Wieters homered in the eighth to make it 4-2. Nolan Reimold and Adam Jones went deep in the ninth to tie it and send the game to extra innings. In the 10th, a three-base error by White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza on a dropped fly ball at the wall led to the go-ahead run. Wieters hit a grand slam later in the inning to put the game away.

It was Baltimore’s first win in extra innings after dropping a pair of those contests to the New York Yankees last week. The win gave the Orioles six wins in their first 10 games.

“We’ve been battling every game pretty close,” Wieters said. “It’s nice to have a big inning to kind of put some things together.”

Jones’ home run was his third in four games.

“We didn’t’ quit,” Jones said. “Once we went to extra innings, we knew that this was our game.”

The Orioles entered the game hitting .179 with runners in scoring position.

“Once you get some runs going, you stop squeezing the bat as tight and it starts to come a little bit easier,” Wieters said.

StatsWatch: A number of players have jumped out of the gate with double-digit RBIs. Here’s the list (through Monday):

  • Matt Kemp, Dodgers, 16
  • Andre Ethier, Dodgers, 15
  • Chris Young, Diamondbacks, 13
  • Adam LaRoche, Nationals, 12
  • Carlos Pena, Rays, 11
  • Nick Swisher, Yankees, 11
  • David Freese, Cardinals, 11
  • David Ortiz, Red Sox, 10
  • Yadier Molina, Cardinals, 10
  • Matt Carpenter, Cardinals, 10
  • J.D. Martinez, Astros, 10

Diamond Notes: In a match-up of two-time Cy Young Award winners, Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay beat San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum on Monday night. Halladay (3-0) struck out six and gave up seven hits in eight innings in the Phillies 5-2 win. Lincecum (0-2) allowed four runs in the first inning, five runs overall and eight hits in six innings. Lincecum has struggled, giving up more runs in the first inning this season (nine) than he did all of last year (eight). He has a 10.54 ERA and has allowed 16 runs and 22 hits in 13 2/3 innings…Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz will have his uniform retired on June 8 before the game against Toronto. Smoltz, 44, pitched 20 years for the Braves, winning the NL Cy Young Award in 1996. He won 213 games in his career.

Copyright © 2012 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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