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Monday, April 5, 2010
Epstein: Young pitchers will get chance

By Gordon Edes

BOSTON -- You’re a young pitching prospect in the Red Sox organization, and you hear that after signing Josh Beckett to a four-year, $68 million contract extension, the club now has three veteran starters -- Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester -- under contract through the 2014 season, with a fourth starter, Clay Buchholz, not eligible to be a free agent until after ’14?

How do you feel about your job prospects now?

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein insists you have nothing to worry about. That goes for you, Casey Kelly. And you, Stolmy Pimentel and you, Felix Doubront. You, too, Michael Bowden.

“I don’t think that’s a legitimate concern,’’ Epstein said Monday at Beckett’s press conference. “We use 25 pitchers every year.

“There’s opportunity here. In rookie development league, we tell our position players, ‘You might have to wait because there’s only so many positions. You might have to become versatile for another position. Your time might not come when you think.’

“You tell the pitchers, ‘As soon as you’re ready, we can just about guarantee you an opportunity.’ That’s the nature of pitching.

“What I would tell our young pitchers, ‘Look at Josh and look at the reasons we signed him.’ Yeah, for his performance on the field, but also the way he goes about his business, and how much he cares about preparation. He prioritizes winning over his own individual performance. That’s the model.

“When Casey Kelly was in his first major-league camp, we said, ‘Watch Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. Learn the difference between a guy who goes out to take the mound every five days, and being a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.’’’