In sync: Beckett, Martinez

March, 8, 2010
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When asked about adjusting to a new catcher in Victor Martinez, Josh Beckett likes to remind his interrogators that this isn’t Martinez’s first rodeo.

“He knows how to call a game,’’ Beckett said after going nine up and nine down in three scoreless innings Monday afternoon against a motley collection of St. Louis Cardinals, a group that did not include either Albert Pujols or Matt Holliday.

“He caught two Cy Young [winners] in a row. I think that speaks for itself. If there’s some sort of issue between what he’s calling and how well I’m throwing, it’s probably me, not him.’’

Beckett was really half right about Martinez and the trophy winners. While with Cleveland, Martinez was behind the plate for 32 of CC Sabathia’s 34 starts in 2007, when Sabathia edged out Beckett for the AL Cy Young Award.

But in 2009, when Cliff Lee won the Cy by going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA for the Indians, Martinez was behind the plate for just four of Lee's 31 starts, as Kelly Shoppach was the lefty’s regular catcher. Martinez was limited to just 54 starts behind the plate in ’08 because of inflammation in his throwing elbow that ultimately required surgery.

Martinez caught Beckett just three times last season after his trade from Cleveland, then again in the postseason. With Martinez inheriting the every-day catching duties from Jason Varitek, he and Beckett have spent a good deal of time this spring working together.

“Victor was really good,’’ Beckett said of his catcher Monday. “I think we’re comfortable with each other. It’s just a feel, a feel for what I like to throw in certain counts. That creates rhythm, and there’s definitely some of that.

“As far as being comfortable, I’m definitely comfortable with the way he receives the ball for us. Right now it’s just about getting on the same page every pitch.’’

And that takes time, Beckett said.

“Being on the same page, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say we’re like a 7 right now,’’ Beckett said. “It’s pretty difficult to expect a guy to come over three-quarters of the way through the season and just pick up the same page as everybody. It’s very difficult.

“I rely heavily on those guys," Beckett said of his catchers. "I’m not ashamed to say that. We’re doing good, just not like every pitch.’’

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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