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04/06/10 8:55 PM ET

Francona, players excited for Beckett

Four-fifths of Red Sox's rotation locked up until 2014

BOSTON -- A day after Red Sox ace Josh Beckett signed a four-year contract extension, his manager and teammates had smiles on their faces. Not only is Beckett a widely-respected figure on the staff and throughout the clubhouse, but four-fifths of the starting rotation is now under the contractual control of the club until the end of 2014.

"There's not one person around here that doesn't want Beckett, I can tell you that," Francona said. "I don't know if that made a lot of sense for me to say stuff like that too much when they were negotiating. But everybody here likes having Beckett around."

First baseman Kevin Youkilis wasn't going to argue.

"It's a good thing for him and the team, I think," Youkilis said. "[John] Lackey has a long deal and [Jon] Lester -- it's a very good thing to see. You have three guys locked up for a while; three great pitchers that will be the three starters that will be here, and three that are at the top of the game. That's a good thing to have."

And Clay Buchholz has the stuff to one day join the other three, if he can keep developing.

"He's here until 2014 and he's probably the biggest factor on this team, as far as starting pitching," Buchholz said. "You've got him and Lester and Lackey locked up for five years now, so it's going to be fun. When [Daisuke] Matsuzaka comes back, that's another factor. You've got six guys that are capable to go out there and win every game they pitch.

"With something like that, your fielders and hitters will go out there and be more confident, knowing the pitchers are going to go out there and pound the zone and keep the ball in play and get outs. It's something that's going to be fun to be a part of for the next five seasons."

Buchholz looking to stay sharp

BOSTON -- There will be a nine-day gap between Clay Buchholz's last start of Spring Training and his first start of the regular season, which will take place on Sunday afternoon in Kansas City. But the righty is doing what he can to stay sharp.

He came in on Monday's off-day and threw a side session. Buchholz threw 10 or 15 pitches at low intensity on Tuesday, with Jason Varitek receiving him while standing up in front of the plate. And on Wednesday, Buchholz will throw a three-inning simulated game at Fenway.

"We decided rather than sitting him out in the bullpen [during games], at 3 [p.m. ET on Wednesday], he's going to throw a simulated game, and that will be his preparation for his start," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Buchholz is fully on board with what the Red Sox have lined up for him, especially compared to last year, when he pitched the entire first half for Triple-A Pawtucket.

"They told me with a week to go in Spring Training, what I was doing and I didn't care about the wait in between," Buchholz said. "I get a start in the five-day rotation. I was happy that they were giving me the ball. I took it for what it was worth. I had a little bit of time off, and I'll try to think of the good things that are going into it instead of the long wait."

One good thing is that Buchholz said he felt some fatigue toward the end of camp.

"I think it's better than anything just to take some rest to get the Spring Training fatigue I was feeling the last week or so and take a couple of days off," Buchholz said. "Just let my body rest, and then I went back at it. I don't think it's going to be a huge, awkward feeling tomorrow, but my body feels refreshed, so I think that was the key."

Former teammates happy to see Pedro

BOSTON -- Though they were in the process of getting revved up for Sunday night's season-opening contest against the Yankees when Pedro Martinez made his surprise appearance on the field for the ceremonial first pitch, the Red Sox still seemed to thoroughly enjoy having their erstwhile ace back at Fenway.

"I just said hi to him before the game, gave him a hug," said Kevin Youkilis, who was a rookie in Martinez's final season in Boston. "It was really cool. I didn't know it was going to happen. When he came out, it was definitely cool to see him here in the ballpark, especially, because when you think of the Boston Red Sox, he's one of the names you'll always think of. It was cool to see him like that. I think, hopefully, some day, he'll retire as a Red Sox."

The case can be made that Martinez was the most dominant starting pitcher in Red Sox history.

"It was pretty cool," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I thought the fans got to show their appreciation, and it was pretty obvious that Pedro was enjoying it, as he should. I thought it was a pretty good idea."

Francona at least got to say hi to the man he gave the ball to in 2004 on Opening Day in his first season as the manager of the Red Sox.

"I just saw him in the dugout, and it was quick," Francona said. "I got to see Pedro when I was down at David [Ortiz's] golf tournament, which was nice. It was a nice visit. It meant a lot to me."

Martinez declined to speak to the media on Sunday night, but he revealed the next day how much it meant to him to be welcomed back to Fenway in such a way. The three-time American League Cy Young Award winner was demonstrative and theatrical to the crowd as he walked in, and even once he got to the mound.

"I was telling everyone, 'I love you,'" Martinez told the Boston Herald. "They're in my heart, and I'm so thankful to God [on Sunday] for allowing me to see the appreciation and things he has done for me and how he has used me. I was so thankful and so happy to God and so thankful to the Red Sox for recognizing me now and not when I've retired or something else had happened."

Schoeneweis revels in Duke's title

BOSTON -- When Duke staved off upset-minded Butler to win the NCAA men's basketball championship on Monday night, no player in the Major Leagues was happier than Red Sox lefty Scott Schoeneweis. And his enthusiasm had nothing to do with how he lined up his bracket.

Schoeneweis is the only active player in the Majors who attended Duke, and he has stayed an avid supporter since his graduation in 1996.

"I watched them every time they were on -- tried to at least," said Schoeneweis. "My kids have the Duke uniform and the whole thing. When they're playing a tough game, they put the unis on. They're always well-coached. They always play hard. It's just a matter of getting the right amount of talent sometimes."

Yes, Schoeneweis' heart was in his throat when Butler's buzzer-beating attempt came close to going in.

"It was fun," said Schoeneweis, who was able to watch the game on television during the Red Sox's off-night. "I was a lot more nervous watching that game than I am when I'm out on the field."

Was Schoeneweis a Cameron Crazy during his days at Duke?

"I was not a Cameron Crazy. The mean SAT in that group is about 1,580," quipped Schoeneweis. "I went to the Duke-Carolina game at home all four years. We used to play the Fab Five -- we played Michigan and I went to that game."

Though perennial powerhouses often are resented by the average fan, Schoeneweis doesn't understand how that could be the case when it comes to Duke.

"You always think that with Duke, the advantage they have is coaching," said Schoeneweis. "And the kids are unselfish. They know their roles. They're smart players. That's why I never understand why everybody hates Duke so much. The average person, if you're going to root for anyone, you're going to root for these kids. These kids are good students, they don't get in trouble off the court. They do the right thing."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.