FORT MYERS, Fla. — Josh Beckett addressed the media after today’s workout in Fort Myers and said he won’t be talking about the final year of his contract with the Red Sox during spring training and it won’t be a distraction for him once the season starts. Beckett is now entering the option year of a three-year, $30 million contract extension that included a $12 million option that kicked in for the 2010 season.
“That stuff is going to work itself out, I’m really not too concerned with it, and I don’t really have anything to say about contract stuff today or probably any time during spring training,” Beckett said. “And after that I definitely don’t want to let that be the focus on what I’m trying to do.”
Beckett said his physical preparation this offseason was the same as every other winter. “Everything’s pretty much the same,” he said. “Trying to get the core and the legs really strong, build up some sort of base for your upper body and your shoulders to kind of get you through the season.”
The righthander spoke about his performance last season, “You’re going to go through ups and downs,” Beckett said. “The one thing you want to make sure you do is you don’t want to go into too long a spurt for the down time, if you can just weather the storm through. A veteran guy [Al Leiter] told me this once, ‘You’re going to have five starts where you feel unbelievable. You gotta win every one of those. You’re gonna have five starts where you feel [lousy], and you gotta figure out a way to get some no-decisions or something like that, and the other starts are the ones that will dictate how your season’s going to be.'”
Beckett reflected on his time in Boston. “I don’t think anybody would ever blame me for competing,” he said. “Even those five crappy starts I have each year, I think I’m out there competing. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want, like I said, it’s a blast. Boston’s fun. You got 50,000 people, plus another two million watching you every night, whether you’re pitching or not, so that’s fun, and there’s not too many places like that and as far as the professional deal, there’s been some ups and downs. Like I said, I think I’ve weathered some storms better than others.”
Beckett was asked about the importance of having three aces on the staff, and he’s not buying into the ace talk. “I don’t even know what ‘ace’ is. Is that an acronym for something? I’ve always kind of tried to figure that out, you go out there and you work in between starts. You get your work in and you go out there and you compete. Sometimes weathering the storm’s the most important thing, I think as a professional pitcher, every professional pitcher goes through the ups and downs. It’s just how you come out of those, and do you learn from them? Just keep making the same mistakes? I’m not too concerned with the labels.”
Regarding the label that Terry Francona gave him as the leader of the pitching staff, Beckett was much more receptive. “That’s a huge honor,” Beckett said. “Especially in an organization as rich as this one, with as much talent as we have. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with that and I don’t think that it’s what you say, it’s what you do. And I think that’s more of what Tito is talking about. I don’t think you corner people and tell them this is what you have to do. I just go about my work and Tito sees that and he just kind of expects people to fall in line where they are.”
Beckett also touched on the Mike Lowell situation. Lowell was traded to the Rangers but found himself back in Boston after failing a physical, and with a new third baseman, Adrian Beltre, set to arrive in camp tomorrow. “I’ve had a little bit of conversation with him, it’s a bad situation,” he said. “You wouldn’t really wish that on anybody. At some point it just becomes a business. I think Mike understands that. He’s probably one of the most professional men that I’ve ever met. He’s a really smart guy but he knows how to handle situations like this. I don’t think he would come in and let that affect the team or anything like that and I think he’s going to be great.”