Josh Beckett spoke to the media earlier today via a teleconference from his home at the Herradura Ranch, just south of San Antonio, Texas.
On his thoughts about the trade, coming to Boston, and how the atmosphere is going to differ from Florida:
“I’m excited about the trade. I think it could be a good thing for me. I think you get several chapters in your life, and certainly high school’s one of them. It’s going to be a nice change for me just opening a new chapter up in my life.
“As far as the difference, it’s probably one end of the spectrum to the other. Seems like that’s what everybody’s telling me anyway. I got a call from a great friend of mine who was in Triple A last year with Boston all year and he just saw it in spring training. He was in the big league camp for quite some time with you guys and he was like ‘hey you’re finally on a big league team.’ And I hate to say that, but the fact is without a stadium down in South Florida, it’s tough to get fans to come. It rains every day, people wake up and they have tickets to the game and they just decide ‘hey I’m not going to go, it’s looking like it’s going to rain. I’m not going to go sit out there.’ And then on the day games, it’s so hot, it’s ridiculous trying to sit out there.”
What Red Sox players have you spoken with?
“I called Boomer (David Wells), I know Boomer, Boomer and I are kind of cut from the same cloth. We like a lot of the same stuff and everything like that. Obviously Kevin Millar, I know Kevin real well, I actually hang out with him some during the offseason. I’m trying to get him to come back, hopefully he will.”
Why do you think you’ll thrive in Boston’s passionate atmosphere?
“I like the fact that playing in front of fans… you know we had some good fans down in Miami, I can’t really say that because we had, the fans that we had were very supportive, they came to spring training games and they were at every game. I can’t point out one thing that’s just gonna make me this All-Star pitcher every year, I’m hoping that it’s going to be a nice change for me and I’m just going to go out and try and do my best, that’s it.”
On his reputation of having confidence, poise. Does it come out under the spotlight?
“I don’t think it comes out under the spotlight. I’m kind of sure of myself. If you have a failing mentality, you’re going to fail probably more often than you would if you were pretty confident in yourself.”
Did you wear No. 21 in Florida and do you want to wear that number for the Red Sox? Would that mean something to you?
“I’m gonna wear what they give me. I know nobody’s worn it since Rocket, yeah it would definitely mean something to me but if that’s something that they’re holding back then that’s they’re deal, I’ll pick another number. I like 19 but I think Mikey wants 19, so I’m in some kind of predicament (laughing). I think Bronson wears, I wore 61 for 2 ½ years so. All the numbers are taken, I’ll have to pick something else… (He’s worn No. 21) since the All-Star break of 2003.”
How frustrating has it been not to be able to get 33 starts and 200 innings type of season. Is he on the verge of that?
“I’ve definitely been though my share of frustrating times. I try to look at these things a little bit more positive than some people. I’ve moved in right direction every year, and I’m just going to try to keep doing that.”
What about the blisters we’ve been talking about. Do you feel you’ve gotten a handle on that?
“Every time we think we got it figured out, another one pops up. Maybe just getting out of heat and getting out of that humidity maybe that might help a little bit… We’ve tried a lot of stuff, the one that I’ve found that’s been the most productive is some stuff that’s called Stan’s Blister Ointment in between starts and keeping it shaved down with a callous shaver. That’s been the most helpful thing. What was happening earlier in my career is that I wasn’t developing a callous. Whenever I would get a callous, I would let the callous get so big that a blister would develop underneath the callous, and then we’d have to cut the whole callous off and start over again. Whenever you start all over again with unhealthy skin, it’s almost like starting at a negative number instead of starting back at zero.”
Have you discussed an extension or a longer term contract with the Red Sox?
“It’s not something that I put myself through. I tend to try to worry about things I can control. And I don’t think that’s one thing I can control. If they want to talk about that they can talk to my agent. I have a great agent and he usually just takes care of all that stuff for me so I don’t have to worry about it. That’s why we pay them the big bucks.”
How much do you enjoy being a top of the rotation, ace kind of guy, and the pressure that goes along with that?
“Well I think everybody’s striving to be that. To be put in the same category with a Curt Schilling is just a big honor. I’m looking forward to learning from him and just kind of picking his brain. I think we’re much of the same type of pitcher. I don’t think that I have the knowledge yet that he has. It takes us all a little bit of time to learn our own craft and he definitely learned his and made his mark.”
How excited are you to come to city where Roger Clemens had best years?
“It’s exciting. I’m very excited about trade. Some of it has to do with the fact of me being a Boston fan. My father actually worked with Rocket’s brother when I was in middle school and high school. I actually have an autographed ball from Rocket when I was younger and I had a Boston Red Sox hat for that sheer fact.”
How much did your experience versus the Yankees in 2003 help now that you’re coming to the Red Sox, with the rivalry so huge?
“I try to look at it a little bit different than some people do. Most people that are in baseball look at it differently than the fans do also. It’s just game where I have to go out there and I have to execute quality pitches consecutively. And that’s the bottom line for a pitcher. If you’re going to be successful anywhere, that’s what you have to do. You have to execute quality pitches. If you do that it doesn’t really… I mean it does matter who you’re facing because sometimes the better hitters are going to hit a quality pitch but I think if I execute 60 or 70 percent of my pitches in game, I’m going to give my team a good chance to win.
“It was exciting, it was almost like surreal day though (winning the World Series in 2003 at Yankee Stadium), going to park and everything, we had so much fun that year, just with all my teammates, and the ownership there, it was just a really fun time, to soak it in and everything like that, it took couple weeks after that.”
Red Sox players are often given the rock star treatment by the fans in Boston, do you think that befits your persona?
“Uhh no. Not really. I’m kind of a to myself type of person. I like to go out and mingle with people and everything like that but I’m from a relatively small town and I basically live on a ranch during the offseason, so I don’t think it necessarily fits my persona.”
Lack of privacy (in Boston) seems to be an issue of late, is that a concern for you?
“I don’t foresee it being a problem. I’ve never had anybody question that. I’ve never been one of those guys that tells people off or anything like that. I’m usually pretty courteous about all that stuff.”
What are your feelings about being a participant in sports biggest rivalry now?
“Like I said, it’s exciting to be part of that. We got a lot of games against other people too that we have to win. I know that those are big games for the fans and everything like that but if you win every one one of the other games and lose every one against Yankees I know there are going to be some people that are mad we’re still going to make the playoffs.”
It seemed like the deal was held up for a couple of days when the Red Sox were a little concerned about your shoulder and the last six weeks of the season, did you think it would hold up deal? Or is that just business?
“I would have done the same thing. If you’re invest this kind of money that they’re investing and getting rid of players that they were counting on, I would do all the due diligence that I could. I definitely would. Did I foresee that? No but I didn’t foresee a trade even. It was kind of a deal where I like to go see Doc (Dr. James Andrew)] at the end of every season just to see where I’m at. So it was more of a checkup for me. I had some shoulder stiffness, I had several doctors look at me ‘eh you’re fine.’ I’ve got great strength in all my muscles. It was just kind of tired.”
Thoughts about pitching in American League now, different approach?
“They need to get rid of that damn DH. I’m happy. It’s a new chapter in my life. It’s a challenge. I’m looking forward to it.”
What do you know about Jason Varitek and how much of a help do you think he can be to you advancing in your career?
“From what I’ve heard, he’s the most prepared baseball player that some guys have ever played so I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be nice. I’ve had some really good catchers in the past and I’m looking forward to working with one of the best.”
What are your thoughts about pitching in Fenway, it’s kind of a unique park, how soon will you talk to a Curt Schilling or somebody like that about what it takes to be successful?
“I talked to (Hall of Fame pitcher) Don Sutton about it this morning actually. He always said how he liked pitching there, how the stands, so many fans being in small venue makes you feel like you’re right on top of the hitter. And I’ve pitched in parks like that before and it kind of gives you that false sense of security I guess. I’m pumped, I really am. I’m excited, I’m looking forward to it.”
Did you think you’d be immune to being traded by the Marlins because you’re so young?
“Not necessarily immune. I had this feeling that I didn’t think that I’d be traded. I’m still relatively cheap and all that deal. I didn’t think that I was going to be one of the guys that was going to have to leave. I knew there was definitely going to be some facelifts and some changes going on this offseason, I just didn’t know how big they were going to be.”
What did David Wells tell you it was going to be like pitching in Boston?
“He said I’m going to have so much fun. He’s just talking about how great the fans were and how if everything pans out this year how good our team is going to be. That’s really all he said, he was actually with his family, he was fixin’ to take his kid surfing so I didn’t keep him very long. I like to call people and just ask their opinions on stuff, just kind of be open minded to learning new things… We didn’t even talk about that (whether he would like to come back to Boston), the only one I talked to about that was Millar and he said how excited he’d be to come back.”
John Henry owned Marlins when you were drafted there, did you have a chance to form any kind of relationship with him and have you spoken to him since this deal has been made?
“I have not spoken to him yet. I have feeling I will. And yes we did form a relationship there. He came up to Portland and watched me pitch a couple times when I was with the Sea Dogs. And it’s kind of cool being reunited with him. I assumed that he always liked me when I was with Marlins. He was always up front with me and just very courteous and very nice to me.”