FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett recently sat down with Rob Bradford of WEEI.com and left little doubt that he views most, if not all, of the criticism directed at the Red Sox as unwarranted, unjust and undeserving of apology.
Bradford makes it clear he believes the pitcher has been unfairly maligned. “People wanted their pound of flesh,’’ he wrote, “and some were doing their best to make sure it came off the hide of the All-Star starter.’’
In the course of what Bradford said was a one-hour interview at Beckett’s spring-training home, Beckett addressed a number of topics, and made an admission that he was unwilling to make at last week’s press conference, that his wife’s pregnancy was a distraction, but one that he has no cause to defend.
“To ask a man to care more about a major league baseball game -- and I know it's a major league baseball game -- than he does about what's going on with his wife, who's due any minute. And I never want her to be an excuse. Yeah, I was distracted, but that's not her problem. That's on me. I would never trade that.
"If somebody reads this or somebody thinks I'm wrong, they can go [expletive] themselves. That's the truth. That's what's important to me. I'm not saying baseball is not important. I could differentiate on the day I was pitching. I went out there and I was still as competitive. I'm not saying my mind was only focused on just this pitch because I did have other things on my mind. Whether you want to understand that or not, I don't care because I know who I am and what I'm trying to do.’’
Beckett told Bradford he had some issues with manager Terry Francona, but was appalled at the way Francona was treated publicly, when details of his private life surfaced in a front-page story in the Boston Globe, including unsubstantiated allegations that the Sox were concerned about Francona’s use of pain medication.
"Somebody made that stuff up, just like somebody made up that we were doing stuff … This is stupid," he said. "I don't understand what the big deal is. Somebody was trying to save their own ass, and it probably cost a lot of people their asses. The snitching [expletive], that's [expletive]. It's not good.
"There's two things with the clubhouse thing that I have a problem with: If I'm going to say something about the clubhouse, my name is going to be on it. The second thing is you never want to be remembered as that guy because that will follow wherever you go. It's just mind-boggling to me."
Beckett also refuted the suggestion that his weight gain by the end of the season was an issue.
"It's not like I was standing behind the mound, bent over breathing heavy. It wasn't anything like that," he said. "It wasn't something I thought about. We all put on a little weight during the year. I can't help that I wasn't pitching good and people notice that.
"Another thing people have to realize is baseball players aren't supermodels. We don't all look like Jacoby Ellsbury. I wish I did, but I don't. I never have and I never will. We're major league baseball players. We get paid because we're really flexible in our arms, that's the only thing. I'm not a professional athlete in anything else. It's just kind of crazy. This has become this big deal about how we're supposed to look like Jacoby. If I worked out for 23 hours a day I still wouldn't look like Jacoby. It's just not in my DNA.
"I never missed a workout. If anything … one of the things we've changed this year about the pitchers' workouts is that we started doing squats last year during the season because [I] felt good doing them. But at the end of the year there was some dissension among the medical staff where some of them wanted us to do it and some of us didn't. Now we don't do squats. I loved them. I did them all the way through September.
"The only thing I cut back from is that I couldn't run, but I was riding the bike the same amount of time. … There are reasons why I gained weight last year. It doesn't have anything to do with my wife, either. That's life. You go through things like this. It's just the way it is."