Noted golfer and part-time pitcher Josh Beckett has been asked to curtail his golf practice during Red Sox games. Beckett said today that Boston manager Bobby Valentine has banned him from his customary practice of hitting pitching wedges in the Fenway Park outfield during home games.
"I only pitch once every five days," said Beckett. "And even then, usually for only a few innings. So I see it as a favor to them that I show up at all for games during my off-days. I just like to get some wedge work in. The grass is pretty nice out there, kind of like the first cut of rough. But now they say I can only do it between innings."
Beckett's short game practice has been a sore subject before. Red Sox outfielders and opponents have complained about the divots all over the outfield and the pitcher almost refused to report to the team this spring when team management denied his request to install a practice sand trap at the base of the Green Monster.
"I just didn't see the problem with a sand trap," said Beckett. "They already have a huge wall, that's not normal for a baseball stadium. I explained to them that if I could get better at getting up and down from bunkers, my mind could focus more on baseball. But they didn't want to hear it."
Beckett is signed through 2014, but there are reports that he will push to be traded back to his native Texas, preferably to the Astros.
"Josh is familiar with the Astros' stadium," said a friend. "He knows they wouldn't have a problem putting some bunkers and a practice green in the outfield. That would be no more out of place than a random hill with a flagpole on it."
Beckett has struggled on the mound this year with a 5.97 ERA and a 2-4 record for the last place Red Sox, but says he has seen signs of improvement.
"I've got my handicap down to a 4," he said. "I'm feeling confident. No doubt that confidence will soon carry over to other mildly athletic pursuits like pitching."