Josh Beckett’s Defiant Attitude Proving to Be Both Greatest Strength and Greatest Weakness


May 16, 2012

Josh Beckett's Defiant Attitude Proving to Be Both Greatest Strength and Greatest WeaknessBOSTON — This is Josh Beckett.

At any given moment, Beckett can be a defiant personality, a man who is rarely remorseful and barely cares about public perception. After last Thursday's debacle, he was unapologetic about playing golf — during an off day — while he battled a sore lat.

The lack of remorse prompted many to call for Red Sox management to immediately trade Beckett to the highest bidder. But a week later, Beckett responded by pitching seven shutout innings to lead the Red Sox to a 5-0 victory over the Mariners.

Just like he did last Thursday, Beckett approached his postgame news conference on Tuesday with nonchalance. When asked if he was motivated to atone for last week, he shrugged it off.

"There's not a whole lot you can do different. You can't have too many of those starts where you start changing stuff," Beckett said. "I try to do kind of the same workouts and everything like that."

Tuesday's start showed that Beckett's greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. The same defiant attitude that drew criticism after last Thursday's game fueled his masterful performance against the Mariners on Tuesday.

Beckett's desire to stick to his personal guns seemed to drive a wedge between himself and Red Sox fans last week. This week, his desire to stick to his professional guns allowed him to mow down Seattle and rack up nine strikeouts.

In a span of six days, Beckett was at finest and at his worst. He can be an enigma, but one that manager Bobby Valentine wants to ride all the way to the postseason.

"Josh, as every player has, has things that motivate him," Valentine said. "He was motivated [on Tuesday], it seemed. He's one of the big guys. It's not like he's following the rest of the guys, that's for sure. He wants to be the leader of the pack, and we need him to be, because he can be."

That mentality stems from Beckett's days as a teenage phenom at Spring High School in Texas. Even as a sophomore there, he developed a reputation as a cocky athlete — which alienated some — but was also known as a talented hurler.

Beckett's high school coach Kenny Humphreys witnessed the dynamic firsthand years ago. Still, regardless of all the outside banter, Humphreys said Beckett would always continue to be Beckett.

"He doesn't live too much in the past," Humphreys said. "He's really in the moment, and that's the pretty neat thing about him. When the lights flip on, you know what you're getting from him."

Granted, the Mariners' roster is far from talented. But after scouts and reporters clamored about Beckett's decreasing velocity all week, Beckett answered back by unleashing a 93 mph fastball to start the game.

As far as Beckett was concerned, that pitch was business as usual.

"I don't think I was trying to make a statement," Beckett said of the pitch. "I don't know if that's what it did."

That's Beckett for you. Whether he's carving up a team or getting carved up by the public, the 32-year-old will never tip his hand and change for anyone. His greatest weakness is his greatest strength.

For the Red Sox, it's a gift and a curse. On Tuesday, they unwrapped the gift.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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