You play detective. You try to figure out who Kevin Youkilis is these days, now that the Yankees have given him $12 million to be Alex Rodriguez's replacement for half a season — maybe longer.

So you place calls to the two men who managed him last year, and by the time those conversations are done with Bobby Valentine and Robin Ventura, you are not sure if you even were talking about the same player. Such was the tale of two cities — and managers — that was Youkilis' 2012 campaign:

High maintenance, low production and a rift with his manager that in many ways set Valentine on a trajectory toward being fired in Boston. Meanwhile, in three months in Chicago, Youkilis gave Ventura the impression that all that had changed were his Sox from Red to White.

"I thought he was great," Ventura said. "He is a competitor. A lot of what you saw with the Red Sox is what you get. He comes ready to play every day. He has a grinder mentality. He never takes anything for granted or gives in on anything."

Valentine dislikes the now-established story that he clashed with Youkilis from the outset. Instead, he insists, he inherited problems that spilled over from the Red Sox's crash of 2011, namely that some players believed Youkilis was a leak on the story that implicated Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey with drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse while games were being played. Youkilis, never the most popular player among his teammates anyway, felt further marginalized.

But it also was clear Valentine felt Youkilis' skills had eroded and that rookie Will Middlebrooks was the better third base option. On April 15, Valentine told a TV station, "I don't think [Youkilis is] as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason." That set off a chain of recriminations toward the manager from within the clubhouse and detonated the Youkilis-Valentine relationship for good.