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Teammates back Youkilis

BOSTON — Kevin Youkilis' teammates came to his defense Monday after Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine questioned his commitment to the game then apologized to his third baseman.

During an interview aired Sunday night on WHDH-TV, Valentine said he didn't think Youkilis was "as physically or emotionally into the game."

That drew a sharp response from 2B Dustin Pedroia on Monday.

"I know he plays as hard as anybody I've ever seen in my life. I have his back and his teammates have his back," Pedroia said.

After a 1-0 loss to the Rays, 1B Adrian Gonzalez also supported his teammate.

"All you can do is tell Youk we love him. All it says is we have each others' backs," he said. "We're pulling for each other on the field and in the clubhouse. We've got a strong bond."

Monday, Valentine said he apologized when Youkilis came into his office and asked for an explanation.

"I don't know if he accepted my apology," Valentine said. "It was sincere."

Youkilis had a poor spring training and is batting .200 (6-for-30), but Valentine said his comments weren't aimed at motivating him.

"I'm more confused than anything," Youkilis said before the game. "Everybody knows I go out and play the game as hard as I can."

GIANTS LOCK UP PITCHER: LHP Madison Bumgarner and the Giants have agreed to a new six-year contract through the 2017 season, locking him up through his arbitration seasons and his first year of free agency. The deal includes this year and also has options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Bumgarner, 22, has a 3.12 ERA and a 21-20 record in three-plus seasons in San Francisco.

CLEMENS SAGA: Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens was back in court in Washington D.C. for jury selection in the government's second attempt to prove that he misled a House committee at a landmark drugs-and-sports hearing in 2008. A July trial ended in a mistrial when prosecutors introduced inadmissible evidence after only two witnesses had been called.

BONDS APPEAL: Home run king Barry Bonds was given an extension until May 4 to file written arguments in his appeal to overturn his obstruction of justice conviction. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a second extension request by Bonds' lawyers.

HONOR FOR SMOLTZ: The Braves plan to retire John Smoltz's No. 29 and induct the right-hander into the team Hall of Fame at Turner Field in a June 8 ceremony.

OBITUARY: Ron Plaza, a minor-league roving instructor for the Athletics who spent more than six decades in pro ball, died Sunday night at a rehabilitation nursing home in St. Petersburg. He was 77.

MARINERS: Dominican OF Hersin Martinez, 17, signed for a $1.1 million bonus. The 6-foot-5 Martinez is considered one of Latin America's top power prospects.

TWINS: An MRI exam on LHP Glen Perkins revealed no structural damage on his sore pitching arm, and he was diagnosed with forearm inflammation.

YANKEES: SS Derek Jeter will receive an honorary doctorate from Siena during its May 13 commencement. Siena, in Loudonville, N.Y., says it chose to give the degree to Jeter in honor of his Turn 2 Foundation.

Teammates back Youkilis 04/16/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 12:02am]

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