LOS ANGELES -- One year from Sunday. That's when Josh Beckett's life took what the pitcher views as a much-needed turn.
It was on that day -- Aug. 25, 2012 -- that the Red Sox executed a nine-player trade with the Dodgers that sent James Loney and then-minor leaguers Rubby De La Rosa, Jerry Sands, Ivan DeJesus and Allen Webster to the Sox for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and a right-handed pitcher who was ready for something different.
"It has gone by pretty fast," Beckett said when reached by phone on Monday. "Time goes a lot faster everywhere else besides Boston. Time goes by slow when you're in Boston. The last few years there it went by really slow. Some of that can be attributed to losing. I've noticed that.
"When I was with the Marlins I remember how fast that World Series season went by and I remember how slow the other seasons went. I'm sure that had something to do with it. A lot of the negativity plays a role into. … I'm happy that I got a chance to [play in Boston], but I'm glad it's over."
Plenty has changed for Beckett over the past 361 days.
He and his wife, Holly, have settled into a new Southern California home after selling their place in Boston. The couple welcomed another daughter to their family earlier this month. He has reveled in life as a Los Angeles Dodger. And there has been a surgery -- thoracic outlet syndrome surgery (after experiencing numbness in his right hand) -- that hasn't allowed him to throw a baseball for the past two months.
But when it comes to the perception of what went down in that final season with the Red Sox, Beckett's view of the scenario hasn't been altered.
He said it in the days immediately after the trade, and nothing has changed: By the time the deal was made, Beckett was convinced his time in Boston had reached the point of no return.
"It just got way too personal for me," he said while rehabbing in the Dallas area. "It wasn't just like, 'Hey, you suck on the baseball field.' It was now, 'Hey, you're a bad person.' It was getting personal. It wasn't even about baseball anymore. It was definitely time to make a change. I think everybody from the front office to the players recognized that, we've moved on and now here I am."
Added Beckett: "I think it almost ended up being like a pity party in the clubhouse. Nobody wants to hear [expletive] like that. Nobody wants to hear the personal stuff. Everybody in the clubhouse can deal with, if someone has a bad game, then you can deal with that somebody is going to get picked on. But when the team wins and you're still hearing about it, it's going to too far. It was starting to affect the other guys. I don't want to be that guy. And it wasn't just about baseball anymore."
As the trade's anniversary approaches, even though Beckett isn't shying away from his take on what transpired, there has been the opportunity to reflect. For example, he is quick to respond when asked what he viewed as the biggest misperception regarding his final season with the Red Sox.
"Probably that the guys in the clubhouse didn't care for me. That was completely fabricated," he said. "Completely fabricated. That I was in there causing all kinds of problems. It was completely fabricated, and I don't think one story ever came out about that being true but somehow that continued to be true."
But while the 33-year-old appears genuinely immersed in his new Los Angeles life, the memories -- both good and bad -- of his six-plus seasons as a Red Sox remain fresh in his consciousness, especially with his former team coming to town for three games starting Friday. ("I still talk to about 10 guys on that team, texting once a week or every two weeks," he said.)
Beckett easily identifies the 2007 World Series run as the highlight of his tenure in Boston. ("Without question," he said. "The World Series was so quick, I almost remember the Cleveland [American League Championship] series more.")
And even in the final days, when he was being classified as part of the problem for a team fraught with problems, there are moments that he still remembers fondly.
"I think it would probably have to be Dustin Pedroia saying, 'Yeah, Josh Beckett is a [expletive], but he's our [expletive],' " Beckett said when asked for a memorable image of his last stretch in Boston. "That was just perfect because I knew everybody in that clubhouse had my back and nobody outside the clubhouse did."
The view of Beckett rapidly drifted away from World Series hero to something else entirely. The combination of all that transpired during the September 2011 collapse, the offseason fallout that ensued, a lack production on the field in '12 and the perceived defiance that went with it all put the pitcher in the middle of a storm that wouldn't blow over until the deal was made.
He had signed a four-year, $68 million extension early in the '10 season, having gone 65-34 with a 4.05 ERA in his first four seasons with the Red Sox. There was also the postseason mark of 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA.
Yet his last 89 appearances with the Red Sox -- from the start of the 2010 season until the trade -- yielded just a 26-27 record with a 4.25 ERA. During the stretch, Beckett battled off and on with various injuries, including the one that ultimately shut him down this year after a May 13 start.
"I felt it probably four or five times in the last four years," he said of the hand ailment. "But it never stayed around, that was the difference with the deal this time. It just stayed around. It never went away, I tried to pitch through it, kept pitching like crap and things were getting worse. I felt like I was going to kill a right-handed batter when I was out there. It wasn't good.
"It would go away and then come back and then come back. It would be there for a couple of weeks, but this time it was there for six straight weeks. Just not being able to feel my hand, or my hand would go numb."
The injuries and up and down production, however, ended up being just part of the issue for Beckett.
Even after the chaos that stemmed from the end of 2011, the pitcher explained that heading into 2012 he was still focused on finishing his career as a Red Sox. A few months into the season, that had changed.
"Whenever I sign a deal I intend to honor it. I signed that deal with the Red Sox. Am I happy that it didn't happen? Under the circumstances, yes," he said. "Things change and that comes back to the personal part. Am I happy to be with the Dodgers? Hell, yeah. It's a pretty awesome place. As cool as Fenway was, Dodger Stadium is every bit as cool in its own way. They're obviously different. Dodger Stadium looks like paradise on TV and it feels like paradise when you're there, with the palm trees, being in downtown LA, having Vin Scully's voice. It's a pretty cool place, And a lot of those nostalgic things remind me of being at Fenway and playing in Boston. It's got it's own little twist on it.
"Leading into last year, yeah I thought I would be staying. But once we got going into the season I thought, 'No way.' I think a lot of people were wondering what the Red Sox were going to do, and they've always done a good job. They have resources, but they've always been smart with them and that's what they've done this year and they're having a good year. They went back to spending smart. They've always been good at that.
"I think there were a lot of guys, and I was one of them, were wondering where they were going to go with this thing. And I knew I wasn't going to be a part of it. After the season got started last year and we sucked I knew something was going to happen, I just didn't know what or when."
The rumblings regarding a change of venue for Beckett started cropping up as the non-waiver trade deadline approached. While the pitcher had never been involved in in-season trade rumors, any anxiety was tempered by having the ability to veto any trade (due to his 10-5 rights).
There were talks with other teams heading toward July 31 -- the Rangers being one -- but no negotiations got to the point of Beckett needing to waive his no-trade clause.
"I could see where it could be concerning for people who don't have that option, which I don't have anymore. I could be traded tomorrow. I don't think anybody is looking for a middle-aged guy with a 5 1/2 ERA with zero wins who just had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery -- at least not contenders," he said. "After it was all said and done, everybody asked me, 'Was it crazy?' And I said, 'No.' I know everybody wants you to say it is, and I'm sure it is for those who don't have that, but I pretty much had to be in every discussion.
"Pretty much when they got talk started with any team, I was involved. Ben [Cherington] and I would be exchanging text messages. I've always had a really good relationship with Ben, and I still think I do, actually."
Then, along came the Dodgers.
"If [Cherington] would have called me with other ones, you never would have heard about them. It had to be the right situation and it had to be the right deal," Beckett explained. "It had to be the perfect situation, otherwise I would have stayed there. I was set up there. It didn't make a whole lot of sense at the time to leave there, although it makes a whole lot of sense now. I was pretty set up there. But I think it worked out well for everybody."
By the time Cherington first broached the historic deal with Los Angeles with Beckett, the pitcher's mindset regarding remaining in Boston had done a complete about-face.
The combination of what his existence had become, along with a view of other comings and goings involving former Red Sox players, had cemented his mentality heading into the season's final months.
"Once that stuff starts going down that road it doesn't stop. It picks up steam," Beckett said. "We've seen it before. David [Ortiz] has probably seen it more than anybody. It doesn't stop. It just picks up steam and snowballs. That's how it is. It's just the way it is there. Once it starts going down that road, it just isn't going to stop. I don't know if I was naive at the beginning thinking maybe it would stop, but it never does. It hasn't happened one time.
"I knew it wouldn't [change]. I knew it would change as soon as Ben called me to say he had a deal with the Dodgers, and I said, 'Sign me up.' I had already talked to my wife about it knowing some of that stuff was going on having talked to Ben about it. Holly and I had already talked, we went about our way, sold our place in Boston and here we are."