Beckett irons out problems before home opener


TORONTO -- Josh Beckett is set to pitch the Red Sox' home opener Friday, with the hope that he's found some things to correct what went wrong in his first start last weekend.

Beckett was shelled for five homers and seven runs in 4 23 innings in Detroit.

He worked with pitching coach Bob McClure in a side session Tuesday and believes they found the cause for "flat'' pitches against the Tigers.

"I felt like I was getting very rotational and not throwing up-and-down,'' said Beckett, "which are things that I do whenever I'm successful. It adds a little bit of different angle to the ball.''

"Bob worked with him,'' said Bobby Valentine. "I think they got a lot of things ironed out and they felt really good about where he should be. I think the thumb thing seems to be a moot point right now, so I'm looking forward to him pitching again.''

Beckett had a poor first outing in 2011, too, allowing three runs in five innings in Cleveland before going on a good run.

"That first start is always kind of a crapshoot,'' he said. "You have a lot of anxiety leading up to that. You want to do well and everything like that. But I think a lot of times you
expend too much energy on things that don't help you be successful.''

Jon Lester pitched the season opener for the Sox in Detroit, but Beckett will have the honor of pitching the first game at Fenway, which, in many ways, is akin to Opening Day.

"Especially there,'' said Beckett of Fenway. "It's such a special place. I know everybody gets to see it driving up (to the ballpark) and see all that stuff on the day you're pitching. The Yawkey Way thing, there's probably not another place like it. There's probably no other way to describe it.

"Driving up Boylston (St.) and waiting at the crosswalks. Everybody's already down there. It's as busy right then as it will be after the game. I'm not sure how many Opening Days I
have (pitched), but I think I have three (home openers) at Fenway and it's pretty neat.''

Despite four losses in the first five games, Beckett insisted that the Sox are a confident bunch as they head home.

"Obviously, losing's never fun,'' he said. "But I thought we had a legitimate chance with one out (to go Tuesday) night. It's (lousy) to start out the way we have, but I think all the guys are still pulling for each other. It's kind of fun to watch. I think we have a really good group here.''

The team began 2011 0-6, but Beckett sees a different Sox team this season, even though they're struggling again.

"There were a lot of things going on last year when we were 0-6,'' said Beckett. "It just seemed like we would never get a break. When the season started, Texas was locked in, that ballpark, they were excited about coming off their first World Series. It just seemed like nothing can go right.

"This year, I think we've done some good things and I think we just have to continue to do those. We've hit a lot of balls hard right at guys. We did it again (Tuesday) night.''

To avoid falling into the month-long funk they experienced last year, Beckett said the Red Sox need wins -- now.

"They're all important right now,'' said Beckett. "You can't be behind the eight ball like we put ourselves last year when we started off 2-10 . . . Sometimes, whenever you get in a rut like that, you wait for something bad to happen instead of going out and making
something good to happen.''

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