Valentine wondering if Beckett's tipping pitches

Valentine wondering if Beckett's tipping pitches

BOSTON -- The manager thinks Josh Beckett may be tipping pitches, and the pitching coach does not. Combined with the perceived impropriety of Beckett's golf outing from eight days ago, Friday did little to make sense of what's going on with one of the Red Sox's biggest names.

"I think mechanically, the information I've gotten back thus far -- and it's not a full-fledged investigation, if you will -- that his mechanics are right, but Josh seems to think this team [the Indians] is on him more than others," manager Bobby Valentine said a day after Beckett turned in his shortest outing since 2008. "And there might be something that he's doing that is signaling their effectiveness. We're investigating that. Health-wise, he was fine. Said he felt great. Today, he was actively pursuing the answers to the problem."

Beckett lasted just 2 1/3 innings on Thursday, letting up seven runs in Cleveland's 8-3 win, the Sox's eighth loss in their last nine games. Beckett's start on May 2 was skipped because of a bothersome right lat, and a day later, Beckett played golf. That created a perception that he was being careless because of the possibility that he could've hurt himself on the course. Then came Friday's game.

Asked specifically if he thought Beckett was tipping pitches, Valentine said "maybe."

"That's what we meant, that we're looking at video to see why -- when the cutter came in to the left-hander, they always were out in front of it," Valentine said. "That's suspicious."

But when pitching coach Bob McClure was told of what Valentine had to say, he did not concur. McClure said Beckett's long layoff contributed, and that he simply got hit.

"I don't think Josh feels that way [about tipping pitches] either," McClure said. "Like he said, he said that he made some bad pitches and they whacked him. Basically ... that's all it is really."

McClure didn't know if there had been a misunderstanding on Valentine's part.

"I'm not sure," McClure said. "I haven't talked to him about that."

Beckett (2-4, 5.97 ERA ) spoke to WEEI.com on Friday and said in relation to the golf controversy, "I would do nothing to jeopardize my team or myself."

"It sucks, because it seems nobody else wants you here except for your teammates," Beckett said. "What are you supposed to do? What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to go home and pout and take that home with me? That ain't happening. That's not me. Like I said, if I wanted to be part of a reality show, I would go to LA. I'm not into that.

"I really don't know. I thought I made it pretty clear yesterday that my off-time isn't anybody's business. If it keeps me from doing what I need to do, then it becomes the Boston Red Sox's business, but it didn't keep me from that."

Valentine did not outright condemn Beckett's golfing decision Friday, but he said there was consideration for how similar situations would be approached in the future.

"If you're injured, you can't do it," Valentine said. "I didn't think it 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."

McClure stood by Beckett's golf outing.

"You know, the timing of it was not good probably," McClure said. "But I heard part of the interview where he said, 'My off-day is my off-day,' and I agree. Their off-day is their off-day. I think golf's different from pitching. Who's to say that you're hurting yourself playing golf?"

Valentine, McClure and Beckett all took questions Friday about whether Beckett would've been available to pitch in a 9-6 loss to the Orioles on Sunday that went 17 innings and saw the Sox use outfielder Darnell McDonald in relief. Beckett told WEEI that he had not been approached to throw, but had he been, he felt he could have physically.

"Nobody asked me to," Beckett said. "I think it was a precautionary deal. ... If they would have asked me, I could have went out there and pitched."

That doesn't mean the Sox would've gone along with it. McClure called the idea of Beckett pitching "ludicrous." Even if Beckett said he wanted to pitch, McClure said he wouldn't have supported the idea "because that's the whole point, is we're trying to keep things good for the whole season, not create more problems."

Valentine indicated there was in fact a moment's consideration for Beckett to enter -- from both he and McClure -- but that it was quickly ruled out.

"It was just a gesture. Bob McClure says that he pointed to his spikes," Valentine said. "I don't think there was a conversation."

Beckett has a 5.77 ERA since Sept. 1, 2011. Beckett said he talked to Valentine on Friday, and that he was glad, at the least, it was he who was drawing the fans' ire as opposed to one of his teammates.

"What is he going to do? None of this is his fault," Beckett said of Valentine to WEEI. "I really don't know whose fault it is. I guess everybody thinks it's my fault, and I can take the brunt of that. I would rather it happen to me rather than somebody else, one of our guys who plays every day. I can deal with it. I would rather it happen to me rather than a position guy who has to go out there every day."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.