For this, Beckett, Lester willing to make nice

July, 12, 2011
PHOENIX—Bob Gibson, the Hall of Fame pitcher, once said he wouldn’t even say hello to hitters on other teams. He told author Lonnie Wheeler that a young Pirates outfielder named Gene Clines once approached him with a ball and asked for an autograph. Gibson said he took the ball and tossed it over his shoulder into the outfield.

“I got a lot of mileage out of looking angry,’’ Gibson said.

As a general principle, Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett said he agrees with the idea of keeping his distance. But at the All-Star Game, he said, he makes an exception.

Those walls between pitchers and hitters?

“I think they’re let down for about 48 hours,’’ Beckett said. “I know mine are. It’s like not that they’re the enemy, but this guy, if he wants to talk to me for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter to me. I want to sit there and just talk to whoever about whatever. Hitting, pitching.’’

This is Beckett’s third All-Star game, and he says he can’t remember the score of either of the previous two. What he does remember, however, is how much he enjoyed being in the clubhouse.

“That sticks out to me more than any game,’’ he said. “The Ichiro inside-the-park home run obviously sticks out, but to me, sitting in the clubhouse with the best baseball players in the world, that’s pretty neat. Every once in a while you have to have that second where you just sit back in your chair and look around and you’re like, ‘This is really happening.’ Sitting there, talking baseball or maybe hunting, find you’ve got that in common with a couple guys, that to me was the biggest thing. I couldn’t tell you the score of either one of the All-Star Games I’ve been in.’’

Beckett was asked if he pinpoints an All-Star or two that he really wants to meet.

“We were talking about this on the bus a minute ago,’’ he said. “The main thing is you don’t want to stick out. You just want to fit in with everybody. You just sit in the clubhouse and make yourself accessible, and that’s what happened in ’09. I ended up sitting with all these guys, guys that I probably wouldn’t have talked to because they were on another team and I never got a chance to play with.

“I remember sitting with Aaron Hill and Joe Mauer, and we just sat there talking about baseball for a couple of hours. I don’t know if I would have ever gotten to know those guys if it hadn’t been for that.’’

Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester made his first All-Star appearance last season. Like Beckett, he said he sets aside his usual disinclination to socialize with opposing hitters.

“Everybody’s here to have a good time,’’ he said. “You let down that guard of competitiveness with these guys. You don’t want people walking away from here saying so-and-so is an “a----.” You know what I mean? You want people to respect you and then when they play you, you want to say I respect you more because I know him now, but I still want to kick his butt.

“You just don’t want that bad rap of being a d--- because you’re a pitcher and he’s a hitter.’’

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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