Valentine downplays Beckett golf outing

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine on Thursday downplayed the

uproar over pitcher Josh Beckett’s golf outing after he was taken

out of the rotation because of stiffness.

Beckett, who was suffering from a sore lat last week, was

scheduled to start Thursday night against Cleveland.

In Valentine’s words, ”I’ve never seen a pitcher get hurt

playing golf.”

Valentine said Beckett was scratched from a start last week with

stiffness, but he didn’t consider that to be an injury and wasn’t

bothered by Beckett golfing on his off day.

Fans haven’t been so forgiving since the story surfaced earlier

this week. The Red Sox are off to a 12-18 start and sit in dead

last in the American League East.

Valentine, speaking before the Red Sox opened a homestand

against the Indians, said he understands the frustration the fans

feel toward Beckett and the whole team in general. He said the Red

Sox haven’t given the fans any reason to get past the bad feelings

of the slide that ended last season, and knocked Boston out of

playoff contention in the final game.

Beckett’s off-the-field decisions have come up before. After

last season, it was discovered that he was among a group that ate

fried chicken and drank beer in the clubhouse during games. It is

common for players to golf during the season, but typically not

when one is recovering from an injury.