Francona, players excited for Beckett

Francona, players excited for Beckett

BOSTON -- A day after Red Sox ace Josh Beckett signed a four-year contract extension, his manager and teammates had smiles on their faces. Not only is Beckett a widely-respected figure on the staff and throughout the clubhouse, but four-fifths of the starting rotation is now under the contractual control of the club until the end of 2014.

"There's not one person around here that doesn't want Beckett, I can tell you that," Francona said. "I don't know if that made a lot of sense for me to say stuff like that too much when they were negotiating. But everybody here likes having Beckett around."

First baseman Kevin Youkilis wasn't going to argue.

"It's a good thing for him and the team, I think," Youkilis said. "[John] Lackey has a long deal and [Jon] Lester -- it's a very good thing to see. You have three guys locked up for a while; three great pitchers that will be the three starters that will be here, and three that are at the top of the game. That's a good thing to have."

And Clay Buchholz has the stuff to one day join the other three, if he can keep developing.

"He's here until 2014 and he's probably the biggest factor on this team, as far as starting pitching," Buchholz said. "You've got him and Lester and Lackey locked up for five years now, so it's going to be fun. When [Daisuke] Matsuzaka comes back, that's another factor. You've got six guys that are capable to go out there and win every game they pitch.

"With something like that, your fielders and hitters will go out there and be more confident, knowing the pitchers are going to go out there and pound the zone and keep the ball in play and get outs. It's something that's going to be fun to be a part of for the next five seasons."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.