BOSTON -- Already burdened by trade rumors, Kevin Youkilis' relationship with his manager and the Red Sox organization seems to be growing worse.
As rookie Will Middlebrooks made his third consecutive start Saturday, Youkilis said the team never talked to him about his playing time.
"There was no conversation, and I'll leave it at that," said Youkilis, who is the subject of constant trade rumors. "I don't want to start up anything, I just ... there was no conversation. That was it. It has been addressed."
On Friday, manager Bobby Valentine said Youkilis understood why Middlebrooks was getting the nod.
"He doesn't necessarily totally agree with it, he doesn't wake up in the morning and hope that's the case, but I think being the professional person that Kevin is, he understands it," Valentine said.
Valentine was then asked, "Does that require a conversation, necessarily?" The reply: "Yes. I think he's fine."
Clearly, Valentine was not on the same page as Youkilis. The two previously had a public issue in April, when Valentine seemed to question Youkilis' commitment in a TV interview, something Valentine later apologized for.
Valentine accepted some culpability again on Saturday, but he also seemed to insinuate that someone else with the team intended to talk to Youkilis.
"I did [Friday], but not before the lineup was up," Valentine said of when he spoke to Youkilis. "But I'm not going there. I thought the question yesterday was whether he was spoken to before the lineup, when I came up here [to do the pregame media session], and I said, 'Yes.' I didn't speak to him. I thought he was spoken to. If he wasn't spoken to and he didn't understand, I made a mistake -- and, you know, somehow in life, we all make mistakes. But I thought he was spoken to."
Just how the playing-time matter was addressed, Youkilis wouldn't say.
"I'm just trying to play the people that I want to be in the lineup," Valentine said. "I think that's one of the things I'm allowed to do."
Reports have had the Indians, White Sox, Dodgers and Pirates among teams interested in Youkilis, and the belief is a move could come soon. Youkilis said the team has not told him anything relating to trade talks.
"With the speculation of this and that -- it's been addressed that I'm not playing today," Youkilis said. "But other than that, I just, basically there was no conversation about it and I'm just coming in here and getting my work done. And if I need to pinch-hit and play the game, I'll come in and play."
Youkilis seemed to feel some questions were premature because he has not been traded.
"I'm not playing today, but I'm still here," he said. "I'm not dead."
Youkilis, who was selected by Boston in the eighth round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, called his situation "unknown waters." The 33-year-old said he's going to continue to mentor Middlebrooks, in the same way the veterans he came up under took care of him -- despite the fact that the 23-year-old Middlebrooks has taken his job.
"The young guys, it's fun just to help them out, because sometimes they need it. It's fresh to them," Youkilis said. "When you play this game, you're an ambassador to the game and to the players. You have to be that way. You can't be selfish if you're not playing."