BOSTON -- By the time Josh Beckett was booed off the Fenway Park mound on Thursday night following his shortest start since 2008, he might have wished he was back on a golf course. Beckett made his start just one day after the talk-show circuit was outraged by reports he was playing golf during a team off-day last week. The reason it became news is because on May 2, it was announced Beckett was scratched from his Saturday start against the Orioles with a minor ailment to his right lat, yet played golf the next day.
A strong performance by Beckett against the Indians might have helped get the rabid fans of Red Sox Nation back on his side. Instead, he was shelled, giving up seven hits and seven runs over 2 1/3 innings. "I spend my off-days the way I want to spend them. My off-day is my off-day," Beckett said. When Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine came out to get Beckett, the boos thundered down around him. Unlike the questions about how he spent his off-day, Beckett took no exception to the boos. In fact, he believes he deserved them. "I pitched like [garbage]," Beckett said. "That's what happens. Smart fans." The last time Beckett made such a brief start was Aug. 17, 2008, at Toronto, when he also went 2 1/3 innings. As for the golf outing, Beckett and the Red Sox seemed unified in saying the uproar was much ado about nothing. In light of Beckett missing a start with at least some discomfort in his lat, does the righty understand why fans might have questioned that he was out golfing? "Not on my off-day," Beckett said. "We get 18 off-days a year. I think we deserve a little bit of time to ourselves." Clay Buchholz is the teammate who was with Beckett on the links last week. "The one thing I can say about Josh Beckett is he's a professional," said Buchholz. "He's not going to do anything that's going to make him not be ready to go out and do his job. I've been around him for a little while now. That's just the way he goes about his business. That's an off-day, and that's something that gets him away from the field. If he likes to do that, then that's what he likes to do. That's his decision." It probably wouldn't have been the story it was if not for Beckett being perceived as the centerpiece of the fried chicken and beer culture that, at times, permeated Boston's clubhouse during the collapse late last season. "I don't think it was a big deal at all, but people feel differently than I do, I guess," said Buchholz. "Just like last year. The whole beer and chicken thing wouldn't have been a story if we would have won and went to the playoffs. There's always got to be something to talk about. I think that's what it comes down to." Valentine also dismissed the story as a non-issue. "I've never seen a pitcher get hurt playing golf," Valentine said. "Again, I didn't think he was injured when he was skipped."