LOS ANGELES — Josh Beckett leaned back in his chair, in front of the locker he had acquired barely 24 hours earlier. He looked relaxed, comfortable, as he submitted to yet more questions from the media. It was a sight rarely seen in Boston of late, as Beckett declined to speak to reporters on the days before he pitched — and often on the days he did pitch.
This, apparently, is the kinder and friendlier West Coast version of the pitcher whose relationship soured with the Red Sox organization with which he spent the last seven years.
Both Beckett and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez maintained their excitement at having been traded to the Dodgers Saturday in a nine-player deal in order to start the rebuilding and revamping process in Boston, though there were also regrets expressed, sometimes in puzzling ways.
“I tried to control things that I can control,” Beckett said of his time in Boston. “Some things aren’t in your control. It’s unfortunate how it happened. [General manager] Ben [Cherington] and John Henry, they put up. They did what they were supposed to do as owners. Ultimately, it came down to the on-field performance, and we didn’t do our jobs.”
Beckett is looking for a new chapter, as he said Saturday night. Both Beckett and Gonzalez are looking for a fresh start. But Beckett said that he doesn’t have to make wholesale changes, not to his pitches and not to his personality.
“I’m going to try to be the same guy that I’ve always been,” he said. “I think that’s never changed. You go and try to do your job and that’s what I do.”
Beckett maintained that the hits his reputation took were unwarranted, that he wasn’t the malcontent leading the rebellion in the Sox clubhouse. As he said, with a touch of the defiance that marked his tenure in Boston, “Ask some more people. Ask some different people. Ask the people that were around me.”
His focus seems to be on fixing what went wrong with his pitching, on altering results that didn’t please anyone — himself or management or fans — in Boston. He said he needs to get on top of the ball to prevent his pitches from becoming flat.
“I’ve had some good stretches in there, and some not-so-good stretches,” he said. “I’ve got to make sure those not-so-good stretches don’t stretch on as long as they have.”
Beckett will get a chance to do that in a start Monday at Coors Field, a place with fond memories, though the pitcher didn’t actually take the mound in the Sox’ 2007 World Series games at the park.
“Balls are up,” he said, of the reason for his 5-11 record and 5.23 ERA this season. “Balls are getting hit hard. Even the groundballs, they’re getting hit hard. They find holes. There are things that we looked at [mechanically]. You can say, yes, part of it’s that. There’s definitely some other exterior distractions that make it difficult. There was just a lot of stuff.”
There it was, back to Boston, to the issues that brought about the end of his tenure, the breakup of the Red Sox. The regrets.
Gonzalez mentioned some regrets, too, in comments that seemingly came out of nowhere, although he would not be specific. As he said in an onfield news conference Saturday, “We all live our lives and do things we wish we can take back at times.”
When asked about the statement, he said only, “Last year everybody was telling me about taking more of a leadership role at the end of the year. This year, I tried to be more outspoken, and whenever you say certain things or do certain things, sometimes they fire back the wrong way.
“Everything that I ever did was for the sake of winning, and I think everybody over there in the clubhouse knows that. The way things were spinned is unfortunate, but I guess looking back maybe there were a couple things — well, I shouldn’t say a couple things — one thing I shouldn’t have done.”
It would be easy to surmise that Gonzalez was referring to the text message that began what was seen as a player revolt against manager Bobby Valentine in Boston. When asked if that was the issue, Gonzalez said, “I’m not going to explain about that.”
In the end, though, there seemed to be confusion from both stars. They didn’t quite understand why it all went south, why a team with so much talent couldn’t win the games it needed to win. They acknowledged that they bore some responsibility for that, though Gonzalez also said that he felt his tenure in Boston had been a success.
“I know we’ve said it all along, the players have — we just didn’t play good baseball,” Gonzalez said. “Then all these other things came out, but they were zero reason why we lost. This year we just couldn’t put it together.”
Beckett echoed the statement. “We were very talented,” he said. “We should have played better. That’s what I told Ben Cherington. I don’t think that he wants to trade away everybody. I just think we made it impossible for him not to do that by not playing well.
“I’m as big a part of that as anybody. That’s not what they wanted to do. They wanted Adrian to stay. They wanted me to stay. They wanted Nick [Punto] to stay. They wanted Carl [Crawford] to stay. We just didn’t do our jobs.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.