It appears that Red Sox ace right-hander Josh Beckett will not be joining teammate Dustin Pedroia on Team USA for the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
The Boston Globe has confirmed that Beckett will pass on the international tournament in order to fully heal from an oblique injury suffered toward the end of the 2008 season and ensure that he's ready for Opening Day.
The Red Sox would have advised Beckett to skip the tournament, since compared to pitchers, they feel that position players can better deal with the rigors of playing in a tournament before the season begins, as evidenced by Mike Timlin's difficulties in 2006.
After injuring his oblique, Beckett labored through easily the worst postseason of his career, getting touched up for an 8.79 ERA in three starts. Entering 2008, he had given up just 13 postseason runs in nine games (eight starts). Beckett did put on a gutsy performance in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, holding the Rays to five baserunners in five innings and allowing two runs in a victory that tied the series.
Mike Lowell, who planned to play for Puerto Rico if healthy, also will sit out the Classic while recovering from hip surgery.