Let’s go back to 2012 in Boston for a moment. The expectations for the Red Sox were high but the season was a disaster. A year after the infamous Chicken and Beer incident, Josh Beckett was once again at the center of controversy. The controversy involved him (a) pitching poorly; (b) claiming he had a bad lat muscle; and (c) then being seen playing golf on his off day.
We’ve had similar stories to this in the past. Indeed, we had this with Yoenis Cespedes just a few weeks ago. Being seen golfing while hurt is gonna anger some people, regardless of whether the injury in question would be harmed by the golfing. Heck, Cespedes showed last year in the playoffs that golfing even when healthy can get you criticized by the media.
Beckett’s thing, though, was a bit more suspect. Partially because, yeah, a lat injury can’t possibly be a good thing to golf with. Partially because, when he was called on it, he lashed out and made the controversy worse. It got pretty ugly pretty fast and, a couple of months later, he was traded to the Dodgers in a blockbuster deal.
Today Beckett sought to set the record straight while appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich radio show in Boston. Today Beckett claimed he was fine — his lat wasn’t injured — but that the Red Sox had him pretend it was so they could make a phantom disabled list move in order to make rom for Aaron Cook, who had an opt-out clause he was due to exercise if he wasn’t called up:
“I wish everybody would have known the whole story,” said Beckett. “I’ll finish with this … Aaron Cook had an opt-out in his contract, I was pitching terrible – which is my fault – so we made up an injury so that [the Red Sox] could call him up, so he didn’t opt out and go to the Yankees. That was a thing, but I don’t think that that’s actually legal to do. I don’t think you can just phantom DL somebody.
Only problem with that: Beckett wasn’t DL’d to make room for Aaron Cook. As Christopher Smith of Masslive notes, via a reconstruction from old transaction news, room for Cook was made on the 40 man roster by moving Carl Crawford from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list on May 3 and room was made on the 25-man roster by optioning Jose Iglesias to Triple-A on the same day. The Sox selected Cook’s contract from Pawtucket May 4. Beckett was scratched from his May 2nd start, but he was not placed on the DL. He started again on May 10. That was the day the stuff about the golf blew up. Five days later he pitched a combined shutout, by the way.
Review of HBT’s archives reveals that Beckett was placed on the disabled list on June 16, 2012. The corresponding move to that was recalling Clay Mortensen from Pawtucket. That was for a sore right shoulder. If that was the phantom DL move Beckett remembers, it wasn’t made for any obvious nefarious advantage such as trying to keep a guy from opting out. Maybe it was because Beckett was stinking, but obviously his shoulder would become a serious problem for him for the rest of his career. Indeed, it’s what ended his career, so it probably was barking.
Beckett is probably right about the general ideas he brought up in that interview this morning: when things end for a player, they often end badly, especially in Boston. It also seemed to me at the time, and still seems now, that when Beckett was being attacked by the media over the golf stuff, he was left to fend for himself with no one really coming to his defense. Indeed, manager Bobby Valentine joined in the chorus of people taking shots at Beckett.
But Beckett’s accusation that the Sox wrongfully manipulated the DL to hide him and call up Aaron Cook doesn’t seem to hold water. Maybe they made up his lat injury for that May 2nd scratch, but that’s a bit of a different thing which, whatever else you want to say about it, doesn’t break any rules.
I guess the one thing we can know for sure out of all of this is that even four years later, Josh Beckett is still not too fond of the way things ended for him in Boston.