Warmup routine may be behind Beckett's struggles

Warmup routine may be behind Beckett's struggles

Warmup routine may be behind Beckett's struggles
BOSTON -- While Josh Beckett's first-inning struggles continue to be an utter mystery to everyone around the Red Sox, perhaps one thing that could be altered is his warmup routine

"Josh warms up earlier than anyone in the history of baseball, I think," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "Now, the question would be, 'Should he warm up later?' Maybe. But this is a dog that is hard to teach a new trick to. He's been very successful warming up as early as he warms up. But I've never seen anyone have the break he has in between the time he warms up and the time he goes out there."

Beckett's ERA in the first inning this season is 10.69.

Pitching coach Bob McClure said he will broach the warmup subject with Beckett.

"He's been a pretty successful pitcher and has been doing it the same way for a long time," McClure said. "As you get older, there's some things you might do a little bit different. Maybe it's something he'd want to do. I'm going to ask him. It's something I'm going to ask Josh and see what he thinks."

How much earlier does Beckett finish warming up than most pitchers?

"Five minutes," McClure said. "Some guys -- I would say -- most guys are done between four and seven minutes before the game starts. He's probably done 10 to 12 minutes before the game starts."

Nobody among the Red Sox's brass wants to force change on Beckett. McClure said that he's seen other pitchers in his career go through a similar routine, including Bruce Chen.

"I was confident he was going to go out yesterday and put up a zero. I'm confident next time he goes out there, he's going to put up a zero in the first inning," Valentine said.

While Beckett (5-8, 4.53 ERA) and Jon Lester have both performed well under expectations for the Red Sox this season, there have been no health red flags in either case, according to Valentine.

"I've been totally re-assured that physically he is in tip-top shape," Valentine said of Lester, who will start Sunday.

Beckett, meanwhile, returned from the disabled list on June 30, but hasn't had any health issues since.