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Sports

February 16, 2007

Change is in the air for Beckett

FORT MYERS, Fla. - They have never met. Their backgrounds are as different as could be. And, most likely, they won't be able to communicate too much once initial introductions are finally made today.



But if there is one person who understands what awaits Daisuke Matsuzaka, it is his new Red Sox rotation mate, Josh Beckett.



"It's going to be challenge for him," said Beckett in his slight Texas drawl while sitting poolside at his rented Fort Myers home. "I definitely feel if I could give him one piece of advice it would be to trust Jason (Varitek)."



In Beckett's first newspaper interview since arriving for his second spring training with the Red Sox, the pitcher looked back at what transpired during an up-and-down 2006 season while discussing his expectations for this season.



Topping the list of regrets in his first season in the American League was Beckett's initial approach to finding the balance between trusting a new catcher and trusting himself.



Beckett had an understandable desire to integrate himself into his new surroundings.



"I don't think it was a communication problem, but it was one of those deals where I just wanted to get along. I was trying to get a comfortable feeling of being around him while getting to know him," Beckett said of his early dealings with Varitek.



"I see how much work he puts into that stuff. It's one of those deals where you want to trust him, and I wish I would have done that more often because I probably would have thrown more curveballs in different counts. I almost felt like I was cheating myself by not saying anything."



Most thought his curveball was missing when he struggled last season, in which he posted a 16-11 record with a 5.01 ERA. But as he explained, it was actually the changeup which really ailed him throughout the 2006 season.



According to Beckett, the Red Sox were quick to classify their new potential ace as a fastball and curveball guy, with the changeup used as option No. 3. Yet, even though he initially didn't admit to it, the pitcher knew otherwise.



"They were drilling into my head about (the changeup) being too hard," Beckett recalled. "I don't know if I started believing it or what. It was one of those deals where you come to a new place and you want to get along with everybody. It took me half the season to feel comfortable to the point where I had to say something. But it's definitely something I want to focus on this year."



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