Josh Beckett Battles Illness, Pirates in Spring Training Performance

Josh Beckett Battles Illness, Pirates in Spring Training Performance After four days lying in bed, Josh Beckett was just fine with the ugly line.

In his first start in 11 days, Beckett labored through 3 1/3 innings on a windy day in Brazelton, where the Pirates hit him hard in a 9-7 win over the Red Sox.

Beckett gave up four runs on six hits. He walked two, struck out one and had his fair share of throat-clearing moments.

"He was hacking and coughing in between pitches on the mound and in the bullpen when he was warming up," pitching coach John Farrell said. "It was clear he was feeling the effects of the illness."

It was Sunday when Beckett had a start scratched against Minnesota due to flu-like symptoms. He was able to get his bullpen sessions in during the time off and had only one goal when he stepped on the mound Friday.

No matter what it takes, get to 70 pitches.

"Obviously it would've been nicer to take 70 pitches more than 3 1/3 innings, but we got our work in," Beckett said. "Obviously the numbers don't look good but the most important number for me today was 70 pitches."

No. 70 resulted in a two-run homer for Pittsburgh outfielder Delwyn Young.

But in breezy conditions synonymous with afternoons in Brazelton, such hiccups were easy to look past.

"It's a difficult day to judge your pitchers," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "That happens, but it also reaffirms to throw strikes and keep the ball down."

While the main goal for Beckett in a week he said was just "pieced together" was to simply get some work in, the start stood in stark contrast to the last time he took the mound.

Against St. Louis on March 8, Beckett gained steam with three picture-perfect innings, setting a course for what seemed at the time to be a smooth spring.

However, there is still time for him to regain that momentum before Opening Day, he said.

"I don't think it will be a problem. I have two or three more starts."

When asked when he begins thinking about April 4, when the Sox open at home against New York, Beckett replied, "April 3."

As for the cause of the illness which knocked him off his feet? It's all part of the locker room environment.

"I'm sure it's just a lot of guys getting illnesses in the clubhouse," he said. "We can tough it out for a day, but you go to the weight room, all the bottles of water look the same. You end up drinking someone's bottle of water, next thing you know five, six guys are sick on the team.

I think it happens in every clubhouse throughout the year."

At the very least, Beckett is back in the clubhouse and out of bed.

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