Red Sox: Josh Beckett claims team put him on disabled list with phantom injury


Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett didn’t leave on the best of terms. Now he’s firing back at his old team years later.

It’s been over four years since

Josh Beckett

left town, but the former pitcher hasn’t forgotten about the bitter end that soured his tenure with the Boston Red Sox.

Professional athletes are cautioned on what to say in the media to prevent a firestorm that could present a distraction to the team. During his playing days, Beckett was never shy about making comments that could ruffle some feathers, but now that he’s retired he’s become an open book.

The former Red Sox ace appeared on the Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich show Thursday morning to discuss a number of topics stemming form his final season in Boston, leading up to the blockbuster deal in August 2012 that shipped him to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

One of the more interesting stories that Beckett brought up was a claim that the Red Sox forced him to the 15-day disabled list in 2012 with a phantom injury. According to Beckett, that stint he spent on the DL was merely a ploy to add Aaron Cook to the roster.

"“Aaron Cook had an out-out in his contract,” explained Beckett. “I was pitching terrible, which is my fault. So we made up an injury so that he could get called up so he couldn’t opt out and go to the Yankees. And that was the thing. But I don’t think that that’s actually legal to do. I don’t think you can phantom DL somebody. And that’s the whole thing that I had a problem with – that nobody really stood up. And that’s when I knew it was kind of the end. Because then you don’t have anybody in the organization backing you either.”"

Here’s the problem though. Beckett did have one start skipped on May 2 due to tightness in his lat muscle, but he was not placed on the 15-day DL to make room for Cook. Instead, Carl Crawford was transferred to the 60-day DL and Jose Iglesias was optioned to Pawtucket to clear a spot for Cook, who started May 5.

Beckett came under fire that season when he was caught out on the golf course the day after being scratched from his start. This led to the infamous “My off-day is my off-day” quote that angered Red Sox fans that viewed him as a spoiled millionaire ballplayer that just didn’t get it. The Fenway Faithful booed him ferociously when he returned to the mound on May 10 and was shelled for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.

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Maybe if he spent more time rehabbing his shoulder instead of spending his free time on the golf course he would have been more prepared for his next start. That’s how an unforgiving fan base viewed the situation and his critics only grew louder when Beckett actually did hit the disabled list weeks later with another shoulder injury.

Now Beckett is trying to convince anyone who will listen that the criticism he faced was unfair. He wasn’t selfishly putting his personal life ahead of his career by playing golf with an injured shoulder and swinging a club didn’t set back his recovery to lead to his eventual trip to the DL. His shoulder was fine, but the Red Sox made up an injury as an excuse to replace him in the rotation with Cook so that they wouldn’t lose him.

Except the timeline doesn’t add up with Beckett’s version of the story since his trip to the DL in June had nothing to do with Cook or the outcry against him playing golf a day after being scratched with a shoulder injury.

Beckett wants us to believe he’s the victim, but before we start getting too sympathetic over how he was treated, it should be noted that there were plenty of other issues that led to the former All-Star getting run out of town. In the same interview this morning, Beckett confirmed the “Chicken and Beer” story that made him the poster child for the toxic clubhouse that derailed the Red Sox in 2012.

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As Beckett explains it, the whole story was overblown. The pitchers weren’t feasting on greasy friend chicken and guzzling beer, unhealthy habits that could hinder their performances. He explained that he and a few of his fellow starters that weren’t pitching that day would have an occasional rally beer late in a night game.

Beckett admits it may not have been the right thing to do, but it’s also not uncommon in clubhouses around the league. The backlash came when fans perceived these actions as a group of disinterested pitchers partying in the clubhouse instead of sitting in the dugout to support their teammates in the midst of a disappointing season quickly spiraling out of control.

Perhaps we were too hard on Beckett. The golfing, the beer, the injury. It all seems either overblown our outside of the pitcher’s control. He gets a bad wrap for the downfall of the 2012 Red Sox, but the bottom line is that he went 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA in the 21 starts prior to the trade with the Dodgers. If he had been performing at his previous All-Star level and the Red Sox were in the playoff race, nobody would have cared what he did on his off day.

It’s also no coincidence that the following season after jettisoning Beckett and the disgruntled Crawford, the Red Sox rebuilt the roster with a focus on team chemistry, resulting in a worst-to-first turnaround and a World Series title.

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The Red Sox wouldn’t have won a championship in 2007 without Josh Beckett and he’ll always be remembered fondly for his contributions that season, but we also know that the team wouldn’t have won it all in 2013 if he had stuck around. Beckett can take shots at the organization all he wants for the way he was treated on his way out, but the Red Sox have no regrets over letting him go.