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David Ortiz comes to the defense of Josh Beckett

08.08.12 at 6:59 am ET
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Josh Beckett

David Ortiz was angry.

He was watching television in one of the days following Josh Beckett’s Fenway Park start, in which the starter was forced to leave early due to a back spasm. The line of conversation centered around Beckett potentially faking his injury.

“Are you kidding me?” Ortiz exclaimed.

“When it comes to Josh Beckett, this is a guy who likes competition. Trust me, the way he was pitching that night, he wanted no part of being out of the game. I know what I’m talking about. This is the same guy who later that night couldn’t even get out of a chair or bend over to pick something up. I heard some guys faking injuries, but, dude, this is the big leagues. In the 15 years I’ve been in the league I’ve never seen anyone fake an injury. When you fake an injury you’re just pulling against yourself. You’re just taking money out of your pocket.

“I think it was totally wrong about how lots of people made it sound like. I’m pretty sure a lot of those people who wanted to make it sound like he faked an injury regret it right now.”

Beckett only lasted 2 2/3 innings in his most recent outing, ultimately having to walk off the mound under a chorus of boos when his back gave way.

The injury forced Beckett to miss his scheduled start Sunday, pushing back his turn to Wednesday afternoon. There was no bullpen session in the days leading up to the outing due to the ailment, with the righty having to settle on a flat-ground side session Sunday.

“I’m good. Just muscle spasms,” Beckett said Tuesday during in an interview on WAAF. “We traveled in late from New York, and I didn’t sleep particularly well. I had a lot of anxiety and stress things going on, exterior distractions. I don’t think a lot of it was great for my back. Then going out and pitching on that mound, it was very wet and my back just locked up on me.”

David Ortiz

While Beckett’s back will be the primary focus of those watching the Red Sox starter in his team’s series finale against the Rangers, so will be the crowd’s reaction.

In the July 31 start, Beckett became the first Boston athlete in recent memory to leave a field due to injury while being peppered with boos. It was another aspect of the pitcher’s existence that got Ortiz’ blood boiling.

“I think it’s wrong,” the Red Sox’ designated hitter said of the fans booing Beckett.

“This is a fact that a player got injured trying to do his job. I think that’s something that needs to be thought about. I understand the booing is coming from the fans because there has been a lot of frustration around here lately and there’s been a lot of talk about my boy. And there’s been some negative stuff that has been put in peoples’ heads.

“Josh is the kind of guy who is very emotional. He’s a guy who when he takes the field he wants to bring his best out. People get used to the performance we bring to the field when we are at his best, and I don’t blame them. But this game isn’t as easy as it looks. That’s why there are a lot of ups and downs.

“The bottom line is competing here is not easy. Not everyone can do it. He’s one of those guys who showed the whole world he can handle it.”

Beckett, who enters Wednesday with a 5-9 mark and a 4.59 ERA, admitted following the start that he heard, and digested the crowd’s reaction. But, as the 32-year-old reiterated on the radio, the public perception isn’t going to alter much when it comes to the way he approaches his day-to-day.

“I think for me, I’m just me. I don’t pay too much mind to when people have their opinions about it,” Beckett said. “I’m not going to change and I think sometimes that’s kind of what the media outlets want you to do here. They want you to be who they want you to be instead of just who you are. I’m just me, and I have a really good support group around me. As long as I don’t do anything to piss my wife off, I’ll be OK.”

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