FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Here's a transcript of Josh Beckett's session with the media:
How much do you think about what happened in September?
"I kind of had a break from it. My family had things going that gave me a break from it. Nobody was more disappointed than the players were. I didn’t pitch well. That was the bottom line. My last two starts, against Baltimore, they weren’t good."
How big a factor was the stuff that happened in the clubhouse?
“I'm not saying we didn’t make mistakes, because we made mistakes in the clubhouse, but the biggest mistake I made was not pitching well against Baltimore. I was prepared to pitch every time I went out there. I just didn’t execute pitches when I needed to."
How do you feel about being a lightning rod for all the fans' unhappiness with the way things went in September?
“I can’t control that. I'm sure it manifested itself somehow. I can’t control it."
You’ve been described as a leader of the pitching staff. Do you feel additional responsibility for stuff that went on in the clubhouse?
“I think for me, I can only speak for myself here, I think that we had lapses in judgment. I had lapses in judgment, I can’t speak for everybody else. I want to keep it at that. I can’t speak for Jon or John or Clay or Wakie or anybody. I want this to stay about me. That’s kind of how I feel about it. I can’t speak for anybody else."
Do you regret not taking a more active leadership role in not stopping some of the stuff?
"I had things going on and I got distracted. I think that was the biggest thing for me. I think going forward I would definitely change not being distracted."
Do you think it will be a tighter-knit clubhouse?
"Yeah, it takes time. Winning will heal a lot. The clubhouse in September and the clubhouse in the beginning of April were no different. In between there we apparently had some great chemistry because we were playing great baseball. Winning cures that. If we had gone 20-7, I think it would have been a little bit different as far as the atmosphere in the clubhouse. Winning’s fun, losing sucks."
When you say you had things going on that distracted you, are you referring to becoming a new parent?
"I was distracted."
You say you were prepared to take the mound every time out. There have been suggestions that you changed your approach between starts in September.
"I never missed a workout. I was ready to pitch every time I pitched, and I didn’t execute pitches my last two starts."
Did you approach this offseason differently in terms of conditioning?
"I did pretty much the exact same thing I do every year, maybe mixed in a couple of extra exercises the trainers, training staff have learned or that are more beneficial for my body type."
What do you think of new pitching coach Bob McClure?
"It seems good. I talked to him a lot over the winter. We have a lot in common. He just had a baby as well, so we talked a lot over the winter. As soon as he got the job, I think I heard from him two days later and we kind of kept in contact since then."
You said you had lapses in judgment. What were those?
"We made mistakes in the clubhouse, and that’s about as far as I’ll go talking about the clubhouse."
Do you understand where fans’ anger stems from?
"Absolutely. I’ve been a fan of things, too. It stinks whenever things don’t go the way they’re supposed to go. We’re a really good team, and the best team in baseball for about five months. And it sucks the way things ended. We’re just as let down as they are. That doesn’t make it right. We were very let down, as well."
What are your thoughts on the changes with this team?
"I think spring training is kind of about that for some guys. There’s some new faces here. Obviously right field is open and I think there’s a possibility of two different guys playing shortstop and there’s a possibility of about 35 guys making the rotation and 12 new guys in the bullpen. It’s fun. A lot of the guys we brought back were in spring training last year, and they’re fighting for positions."
The team has made changes in the training staff and conditioning staff. How fair is it to characterize you as one of the guys who were not in condition at the end of season, who might have had a weight issue?
"I put on a little bit of weight. I don’t have a reason for it. But it happened. I’m looking forward to going forward from here."
Are you upset with Bobby Valentine regarding some comments he made as a broadcaster?
"No. We had a conversation about it. My whole conversation with him was just about how Kevin Long said something, he’s the hitting coach of the Yankees, and what’s he going to say? Is he going to say, oh, he’s doing a good job? I doubt it. It’s not what goes on."
Are you more upset about your lapses in judgment or because they became public knowledge?
"I’m upset with myself for lapses of judgment. There’s also some ill feelings toward some people."
When you say people ...
There have been some suggestions that the vibe in the clubhouse was off, a little different.
"I didn’t see it."
Do you have to win the fan base back?
"Yeah, absolutely. I think we need to earn that trust back. They’re the best fans in baseball. There are some good, some bad, everything like that, but they’re the best fans in baseball. I definitely think we need to earn that trust back. The way we have to do that is go about our business the way we have in previous years and earn it back and win ballgames. That’s probably going to be best way."
Jason Varitek is not on the roster. How will that change things for you?
"I don’t think you’re going to find anybody in there that’s played with him that’s not going to say they’re going to miss him. And likewise for Wakie. I was out there for Wakie’s deal. That stuff all caught us by surprise. I don’t think anything like that comes as no surprise. But even if you hear about it, when it finally happens it’s if Tek doesn’t come back, he’s going to be missed, severely. Both in the clubhouse and on the field. For me, I won’t say especially, but for me, for sure."
How will Varitek’s absence change the way you pitch?
"I think a lot of it just goes with the dialogue I’m having with a couple of the guys right now. Salty caught me a couple of times, he’s kind of relaying what he’s seeing. What Tek was so good at was reinforcing something whether I knew it or didn’t know it, he’d come out and tell me, 'This is what you’re doing, you’re getting on top of the ball,' whatever, just trying to get those guys to see the same things he saw."
The training staff and conditioning people who lost their jobs. Do you feel at all responsible or feel bad?
"I don’t make those decisions. I respected all those guys, but the bottom line is I don’t make those decisions. I didn’t call each one of those guys and take care of that."
Last year at this time you called this a 100-win team. Is there a different feeling this year?
"I think what I said was we have a chance to do something really special, something I watched the Braves do a number of times, and that was something I wanted to be a part of. I still want to do that and I think this team has a chance to do that, as well."
When you look back at 2011, do you look at the first five months of success?
"It's kind of tough for me to look back and see exactly how good my year was because my last two starts were bad. If we had won one of those starts, we would obviously have been in playoffs."
Do you have a sense of how things will be different with Valentine?
"No, we haven’t really talked about that."