GM: Not close to Kevin Youkilis deal

Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Thursday that although Kevin Youkilis has been the subject of a number of trade rumors recently in the media, he is not close to dealing the infielder -- or even fielding any calls.

"The reality is there's nothing going on," Cherington said in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "We've talked to teams about several things. Yeah, teams have called to check in on Youk. That was a while back, right before he went out on his rehab assignment (in mid-May).

"Right now we're just focused on getting Kevin going. He's an important part of the team and we know when he's clicking and feeling good, he makes our lineup tough to pitch to."

So why all the trade rumblings? Cherington thinks it's the result of a "perfect storm" of circumstances: a player in the final guaranteed year of his contract who's struggling, combined with the emergence of a young player -- Will Middlebrooks -- who's performing well and appears primed to take his place.

Youkilis, who is batting just .219 with four RBIs since coming off the disabled list in late May, has acknowledged this season has been difficult.

"There's a lot about Kevin that you want on a team," Cherington said. "It's hard to see a guy like that who does care that much going through a tough time. We've got to support him and see him through the tough time. I'm confident he will be in a better place soon."