Beckett paired up with V-Mart
Sox trying to line up scenarios for possible playoff matchups
KANSAS CITY -- In a move designed to prepare his team best for potential postseason scenarios, Red Sox manager Terry Francona had Victor Martinez catch ace Josh Beckett for Wednesday night's game in Kansas City.
Martinez had caught Beckett just once since arriving from the Indians on July 31, and it was not by design.
On Aug. 18 in Toronto, with Jason Varitek bothered by neck spasms, Martinez served as Beckett's catcher. In what was probably nothing more than coincidence, Beckett's four-start slump started that night, as he gave up nine hits and seven runs over 5 1/3 innings. Varitek had caught Beckett's last six starts heading into Wednesday.
"We're just trying to cover everything," said Francona. "And again, not taking anything for granted, but if we get to a certain point in the year, I just think we kind of owe it to us to be able to ... I'd hate to get to some point in the season and go, 'I wish I would have thought of this.' We've obviously thought about it a little bit. Just want to kind of cover all the bases."
Boston's best offensive lineup is the one that has Martinez catching, Kevin Youkilis at first and Mike Lowell at third. If Beckett can gain some comfort with Martinez, Francona would have the option of using that lineup in Game 1 of a potential American League Division Series. Varitek has been in a prolonged funk at the plate and has a .210 average for the season.
"It's going to be my second time, and you know, it's just about going out there and trying to get into a routine and just see what happens in the game," said Martinez. "I'll just be trying to call the game, you know, and obviously going with his strength. He knows what he's doing anyway."
Beckett has always loved throwing to Varitek. This season, the numbers back up his comfort. Beckett has a 3.17 ERA and a .217 opponents' batting average with Varitek behind the plate. In a much smaller sample size (11 1/3 innings) with George Kottaras, he has a 10.32 ERA and a .400 batting average against. Then there was the one start with Martinez in Toronto, where Beckett was hit around for three homers and a .375 batting average.
"It was just one of those days," Martinez said. "Unfortunately, I was back there. He's been pitching great for us. Once in a while, you're not going to be perfect during the whole 162 games, so like I say, unfortunately I was back there, but I didn't think it was that big of a deal."
The one thing Martinez knows is that if he can catch Beckett in a postseason game, it will be far more enjoyable than the 2007 AL Championship Series, when his Indians were completely dominated by the righty.
"Josh, he has great stuff," said Martinez. "I'm not saying he's difficult to catch. He's all different. He's way more fun to catch a guy like him than face him. I faced him a couple times, and he's not a fun guy to face. He's a lot more fun to catch."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.