SO WHAT IF BECKETT DIDN'T APOLOGIZE; TIME TO TURN PAGEBy Joe McDonald
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's time to move on.
Yes, what happened to the Boston Red Sox last season, and the way it affected the fans, certainly hurt. But enough of the beer-and-fried-chicken talk. Enough. Enough. Enough.
It's 2012. It's a new beginning.
"We didn't play good. We stunk. I stunk. I take complete responsibility for it," Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester said. "With that being said, we've all learned from it. We've all moved on. I'm sure that's going to be a big theme in spring training for a lot of guys. We're moving on and we're looking forward to 2012.
"I think that desire to compete and really win and show the fans that we do actually care, I think a lot of fans don't think we care and that we're a bunch of babies, but we do care. We want to win and we want to get back into the playoffs and hopefully bring a World Series back to this town again and show these fans that we are a good team."
The Red Sox have a chance to erase all that hurt from a season ago if they can reach the postseason for the first time since 2009. Lester, along with fellow pitcher Josh Beckett, were at the center of clubhouse controversy from a season ago, and both addressed the situation on the first official reporting day for pitchers and catchers at the player development complex on Sunday.
Lester spoke at length and vowed to learn from his mistakes. Beckett briefly addressed the reasons for last September's historic collapse, admitting he made mistakes, but focused more on his inability to pitch well when the team needed him to.
There were changes made during the offseason. The Sox have a new GM in Ben Cherington. Bobby Valentine is the new manager. The roster is mostly the same, but there are a few additions and subtractions. Boston now trains in a new state-of-art facility.
The fans want redemption. The organization does too. In that sense, it doesn't matter that Beckett wasn't as contrite as we would have liked. It doesn't matter that we didn't hear him say he was sorry for the way things ended and for his role in the beer-and-fried-chicken fiasco.
As Valentine noted Sunday, actions speak louder than words. If Beckett can be Beckett, all will be forgiven.
UNLIKE LESTER, BECKETT BLEW HIS CHANCE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITYBy Gordon Edes
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Whatever agenda Josh Beckett took into his media session Sunday, coming clean wasn't on his to-do list.
The Red Sox pitcher admitted to some "lapses in judgment," but when pressed to describe what those were, vaguely referred to "mistakes in the clubhouse."
He acknowledged being "distracted," but left it to reporters to guess what those distractions were (most likely, he was referring to the birth of his first child, but that's just an educated guess).
Asked whether it was fair to have been singled out as being out of shape, he owned up to having put on only "a little bit of weight," an occurrence he said he could not explain.
Feel any responsibility for trainers and strength coaches who were fired, some of whom were his friends? "I don't make those decisions,'' he said.
Any expression of regret for anything? No, other than not pitching better in his last two starts of the season.
Any pledge to do things differently? No. Other than not to get distracted.
Read the transcript of his session. No difference in the clubhouse vibe, he said. The only change between the clubhouse in September (and April) and the rest of the season was winning and losing. The team lost in the bookend months. In between, the clubhouse was great.
And at no time did you hear Beckett express a desire to be a leader, or a better leader than he has been in the past.
Disappointing, but not surprising. It's not in Beckett's DNA to offer a public mea culpa. Let's hope that within the clubhouse, he delivers a different message to his teammates, but I wouldn't count on it.
The contrast between remarks made by Beckett and teammate Jon Lester could not have been more striking. Lester acknowledged he was "not proud of" his behavior last season, expressed a desire to be more of a leader last season, and said, "We stunk. I stunk. I take complete responsibility for it.''
Beckett said he didn't execute pitches.
Responsibility? The word never passed from his lips.
And what does the new manager think of all this? Bobby Valentine said he believes in actions more than words, but allowed that in this case, maybe some things needed to be said.
Jon Lester saw it that way. Josh Beckett? Not so much.