Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beckett to serve five-game suspension

Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett will serve a five-game suspension starting today as punishment for a pitch he threw near the head of Los Angeles outfielder Bobby Abreu. Beckett had appealed the suspension but will drop the appeal as part of a negotiation that shaved one game off the ban.

He'll next pitch on Saturday against the Yankees.

"I don't think the organization felt like it was ever going to get lessened more than five," manager Terry Francona said. "Regardless of how we feel about what happened, once the decision was made to overturn the umpires, looking at past history and how the league feels about it, regardless of what kind of case Josh stated, I don't think they'd go below five because they want you to miss a start."

As it turns out, he won't even miss a start.

Beckett's turn in the rotation next would have come up on Friday; instead, Jon Lester will make that start on normal rest thanks to an off-day on Thursday. Beckett then will pitch on six days' rest on Saturday, and Justin Masterson presumably will pitch the Sunday night game on ESPN.

Because the Red Sox could juggle things to avoid costing Beckett a start, it made sense to drop the appeal and start the countdown.

That, though, didn't mean it sat well with the ace.

"I don't support this at all," he said. "If it was up to me, we would have gone through this whole process. It could have eventually been a lot worse if we had gone through with the whole thing. Everybody has got to answer to somebody. When your boss tells you to do something, you do what's best for the team. ...

"I truly believe I don't deserve one game. It's unfortunate. Other people don't always see it the same way you see it."

Francona also made sure to emphasize that the acceptance of the suspension wasn't any type of admission of guilt on the part of Beckett.

"I don't think he ever remotely felt like he did anything on purpose," he said. "I probably need to say that. It's still probably for the betterment of the ballclub to not take a chance and have a hearing come up in the middle of (the rotation) where you really have a tough time answering the bell. ...

"He's doing this for the ballclub because he understands the situation the ballclub could be in. But he didn't do it on purpose, and he's very adamant about that."

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