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An eager (but relaxed) Josh Beckett thinks these Red Sox have great chance at 100 wins

02.15.11 at 1:32 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Not that the length of a press conference is an indication of what lies ahead, but Josh Beckett spoke for over 15 minutes Tuesday morning and joked about Mike Lowell‘s golf game, Terry Francona nailing him in the face during the “rag ball” fielding drill and 2010.

The fact that he could speak openly and frankly about that last part may be the most encouraging news of all for the Red Sox.

Beckett said his back is healthy and he is ready to put his nightmarish 2010 season behind.

“I can’t change last year.said Beckett, who was just 6-6 with a career-worst 5.78 ERA in 21 starts. “I just have to do the best I can this year. Like my dad said, just throw the rear view mirror away because you can’t change anything that’s already happened. As frustrating as 2010 was, I have to move on because this is 2011.”

Beckett missed two months after straining his lower back during a start on a wet Yankee Stadium mound last May 18. Beckett agreed with Francona that he likely tried to do too much when returning from the injury.

“We’re all guilty of that, from time to time, trying to do too much right now when really all you need to focus on is this start, not five starts from now, or two starts from now, or even two pitches from now,” Beckett said. “In that aspect, we’re all guilty of that at times, and yes, I think I was guilty of that sometimes.

“I’m trying to have the best 2011 I can and put this team in a position to do what I think we’re all capable of doing, and that’s winning another World Series.”

Just like the time in 2007, when he singlehandedly turned around the 2007 ALCS against the Indians and blew away the Rockies in Game 1 of the World Series. But something he’s never done is pitch for a team that’s won 100 games in season, something the Red Sox haven’t done since 1946.

“I’ve always wanted to been on a team that won 100 games,” Beckett said. “I don’t think I’m more determined, but I feel like this team has a chance to do something really, really special like that. I think that’s where some of the determination comes from. I’m not trying to change last year with 2011. I don’t want anybody to look back and say 2010 was pretty [crappy] but 2011 was really good so, oh, well. That’s not me.

“The determination comes from the kind of guys we have on this team and what the front office did to bolster this thing and make everybody so excited to come in to spring training. I’ve never seen so many people here early than we have a week and a half early this year.”

Ever since the end of November, Beckett has had his sights set on this day in spring training, when he can formally start to put 2010 behind him on the field.

“I’m eager to get this year rolling,” he said. “I think I’m ready. I needed a little bit of a break, a little bit of breather there for a couple of weeks there after the season ended but, obviously, I wasn’t happy with the way the season went for myself or the team. But basically since then, I’ve been ready to go.”

Does that mean he’s healthy enough to return to 2007 form?

“Yeah, why not? I’m only 30. Thirty’s the new 20. Someone told me that.”

He’ll spend a good deal of time getting to know catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia this season since he’ll be pitching to him.

“I think I know him as a person,” Beckett said. “I definitely want to throw to him some. I’m looking forward to it. He’s got the best catching instructor in the world I think working with him,” Beckett said of Gary Tuck. “It’s funny. He does things like [Jason Varitek] now. There’s a lot of things, and there’s not a better guy to follow if you’re in that position, I would think. Everybody said the same thing, ‘He looks like Tek when he [catches] us.’ That’s a pretty damn good guy to look like.”

Beckett also said that he is focused on using his whole repertoire of pitches instead of using one pitch too much. He admitted he overused his cutter, mainly to left-handed batters, causing him to become predictable.

And what about the new and improved bullpen, with names like Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler added to the likes of Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard and Hideki Okajima?

“It’s great,” Beckett said. “I think Varitek said it best at breakfast the other day. He said, ‘All we are are set-up guys now. All the starters are just set-up guys.'”

Read More: 2007 World Series, Boston Red Sox, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek
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