There will be plenty of pressure in Friday's home opener — not just because of the team's 1-5 start. Since this marks Beckett's first home start since acknowledging improper behavior in the clubhouse, he is taking the next step in mending the fences with the fan base.
Upon recognizing the lapse in judgment, Beckett has constantly intimated that winning can erase those memories. Well, here's his chance.
At this point, Beckett has been remembered for unraveling in September. To the ticket holders in the stadium and those watching his every move on NESN, the fact that he finished with a career-low 2.89 ERA remains a distant memory.
This is the golden opportunity for Beckett to deliver a reminder. He didn't achieve that goal in his first start in Detroit, surrendering seven earned runs and five long balls in a loss to the Tigers on April 7.
"That first start's always a crapshoot," Beckett told reporters in Toronto. "You've got a lot of anxiety leading up to that. You want to do well. A lot of times, you expend too much energy on things that don't help you be successful."
As a result of those struggles, this start against Tampa Bay carries additional weight. Before spring training ended, Beckett flew to San Antonio and Cleveland to get his thumb injury examined. Fortunately for Red Sox Nation, many have deemed the injury as minor.
He's downplayed the significance of the injury and manager Bobby Valentine has similarly followed suit. But if Beckett sputters through a second consecutive appearance, the questions surrounding his thumb will only increase.
That's the reason Beckett could benefit from a strong performance. Although he's never been concerned with his public persona, he'd slowly but surely begin to eliminate his doubters with a victory. One game at a time.
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