There really isn’t a member of the Red Sox that is criticized more than Josh Beckett. That has been the case the past two days after yesterday’s report of Beckett golfing last Thursday with Clay Buchholz on the teams’ day off.
Why it has been made such a huge story is the fact that it was announced the day before, (last Wednesday) that Beckett would be unable to make his next start (last Saturday) because of a sore right lat. Then he went out and golfed the next day. While it probably wasn’t the best idea because it sent the wrong message and gave the wrong perception, it doesn’t warrant all the negative media coverage that it has. It wasn’t that big of a deal.
Let’s look at things more closely. Beckett threw 126 pitches in his last outing, Sunday, April 29. He said even before that start his lat was sore, but he did not tell manager Bobby Valentine. Then, it was decided last Wednesday that it would be best for Beckett to miss his next start. This is what Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington had to say last week:
“I don’t think there’s any concern about him making his next start or even if he could have with the extra day made this start,’’ Valentine said. “But it would have been a situation that we would have had to watch carefully. So no need.
“There’s a reason for everything, and I guess the reason is that Aaron Cook gets the start and Josh gets more than just that one day extra.’’
“We’re not concerned about Josh,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “At different points of the year, he might pitch with it. But we just wanted to be cautious and get ahead of it.”
Judging by those comments, there really wasn’t much of an injury with Beckett. With it being early May it isn’t unusual to be overly cautious and skip a start of a star pitcher. Also, it gave the chance for the Red Sox to see what Aaron Cook had, since he needed to be called up last week to avoid an opt-out clause in his contract. Everything considered it made sense for Beckett to miss his start, not due to an injury, but just to give Beckett some extra rest and Cook a chance to start.
Ever since the report came out the local sports media airwaves have been filled with everyone hammering Beckett for going golfing on the teams’ off day, two days before the start he was being skipped in. Beckett wasn’t really injured, it was more of a precaution than anything, so what is the big deal for two friends on the pitching staff to go play 18 holes on the morning of their off day?
Some have said he should have been in the clubhouse getting treatment. How do they know what he did the rest of the day? It doesn’t take all day to play 18 holes, it takes 4-5 hours. Beckett could have very well gotten treatment after the round. Nowhere was it confirmed what he did with the remainder of his day.
Others have said he should be spending time with his family, considering his comments in the offseason about family coming first after the birth of his daughter last September. How do these people know for sure his wife and daughter were in town? They could have been at his Texas ranch. How can people call him a fraud without knowing all the facts?
It was also brought up that Beckett didn’t offer his services to pitch in Sunday’s 17-inning game with the Orioles. Valentine said Wednesday that it would be up to the starting pitchers to volunteer themselves because of a starters routine and how long it takes them to get loose, etc. Valentine did note that in the ninth inning he went up to Jon Lester and asked if he would be available to pitch in extra innings if needed since it was the day in between starts for Lester where he would normally throw his side session. If a starter were to go in and pitch it made most sense to be Lester. He replied, “no.” Why hasn’t this been brought up at all? Sure, Beckett could have offered his services, but so could have the other three Red Sox starters. Everything has been centered around Beckett, but what about the teams’ number one starter who was asked to pitch, why not get on him?
Beckett has actually pitched quite well this season with the exception of his first start where he gave up five home runs. In his last four starts he has allowed one, three, two and three runs respectively. Even last year, despite the poor September, Beckett pitched well, making 30 starts, the third most in his 12-year career. He went 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA, his lowest in a full season of his career. With the way he is being talked about it is like he went 7-13, with a 9.82 ERA.
For whatever reason Beckett is the one the media gets on with the Red Sox pitching staff. Maybe because of his fiery personality, or even something personal against him. The fact of the matter is that Beckett delivers when he is on the mound, and he really doesn’t miss much time either. In his six full seasons as a Red Sox he has started 27 or more games every year except 2010 where he battled a back injury virtually the whole season. So, the criticism of Beckett for missing starts due to phantom/minor injuries in fact really is not accurate.
Beckett almost always comes back strong with strong performances after things such as this come up, and I’d expect tonight wouldn’t be any different.
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