Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine revisited the topic of starter Josh Beckett's golf excursion last Thursday, after he'd been scratched from a scheduled Saturday start. Valentine said that Beckett had been scratched as a precaution rather than because of an acute injury, and so he did not feel that the pitcher had done anything to jeopardize his health for his next scheduled start. Moreover, the manager said that so long as a player did not do anything to impair his ability to play, Valentine has no plans to regulate what members of his roster do on their off-days.
"I don’t think that I am making a determination on what people do on their off days, unless it affects the performance of them on the field," Valentine said. "It seems that he was healthy when he played. It seems like it didn’t hurt him. It would be very tough for a manager to start legislating what guys do when they’re away from the park."
Valentine suggested that, had Beckett been "injured," a golf outing would have been a concern. The manager drew a distinction between an actual injury and the discomfort in Beckett's lat muscle that followed a 126-pitch outing against the White Sox.
“Again, that gets into that semantics thing. If you’re injured, you can’t do it. If there’s an injury involved, you can’t do anything away from the park, can’t do anything aaway from the park that might cause more pain," said Valentine. “I didn’t think [the decision to skip Beckett] was a physical thing. I thought it was precautionary, right from the first day that I said we were going to do it. It was 126 pitches and he had some lat stiffness. I was in the training room with him when they were digging into his lat. He said, ‘Yeah, it’s a little sore right in there.’ I said, ‘I’m not taking a chance this time of the season.’ That’s all I am personally going on. I even heard that the day we skipped him, the day [Aaron] Cook pitched, that he was feeling good enough to pitch that day."
That said, because the Sox wanted to add Cook to the rotation, given that there was a reason to potentially skip Beckett as a precaution, the team decided to take advantage of it. Cook had a May 1 opt-out date looming and the Sox were interested in seeing how his excellent performance in Pawtucket -- 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in April -- might translate to the major leagues. And so, with Beckett's start looming on May 5, the Sox felt like the different factors -- the desire to exercise caution with Beckett, the opportunity to add Cook to the roster -- meant that skipping Beckett made sense, even at a time when the pitcher could have pitched.
"Remember we had a situation with Cook? That was a coincidentally convenient date. We had to make a decision whether to keep him or not to keep him and what we were going to do with him if we kept him," said Valentine. "It just seemed like the stars were aligned to keep him and have him pitch in that spot.”
The net result is that Valentine didn't seem to have any issue with the fact that Beckett went golfing on an off-day. However, asked if there were any unwritten rules that might guide player behavior in such circumstances, Valentine allowed, "I think there are things that have been thought about since this has happened by everyone concerned, just in terms of right and wrong and what to do next time."
Beckett got shelled on Thursday, allowing seven runs on seven hits (two homers) in 2 1/3 innings of an eventual 8-3 loss to the Indians. However, Valentine said that health was not an issue, and that Beckett was instead trying to determine whether he was tipping pitches.
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