Beckett establishing rapport with catchers

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Beckett establishing rapport with catchers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In the wake of the Red Sox' fold last September and the ensuing fallout that came after tales of clubhouse misbehavior, Josh Beckett already had a lot on his plate this spring.

But the retirement of long-time batterymate Jason Varitek means that Beckett has to also familiarize himself with some new catchers for the first time since arriving here in 2006.

Instead of the familiar Varitek, Beckett must get accustomed to working with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Lavarnway.

Each has already worked with him on the side -- during bullpen sessions and live batting practice sessions. Sunday, Saltalamacchia caught Beckett as the Red Sox opened their Grapefruit League schedule with a game against the Minnesota Twins.

"We've had a lot of dialogue,'' said Beckett after tossing two shutout innings. "There are key reminders. You try to give them a couple of things that you tend to lean toward when things aren't going good. For me, a lot of it stems from where my head's going and where my front side is. So we've talked a lot about that.''

Such communication, Beckett said, is essential.

"I think it just takes time as far as the signal-calling goes,'' said Beckett. "I think anybody can get on the same page. They're going to know what I like to throw in certain situations and what my out pitch is that today. A lot of that is just learned each day, in the bullpen or the first three or four innings.''

But Beckett acknowledges that he won't establish the rapport he had with Varitek overnight. These things take time.

"Trust is a big thing,'' said Beckett. "That was one thing that Jason was so good at. I knew when he had a lot of confidence in one pitch and he would go to it and I would shake (it off) and he would go right back to it. I knew he saw something I didn't see.

"But I'm looking forward to working with Salty and Shoppy and just kind of getting to know them while we're out there.''

Recalling his the relationship he formed with Varitek starting back in 2006, Beckett said Varitek would quickly determine during the pitcher's pre-game bullpen session what was working well that night and what wasn't.

"It's all stuff (the other catchers) are capable of doing,'' said Beckett of Saltalamacchia, Shoppach and Lavarnway. "(Varitek) and I didn't have to talk; we just knew and that's something I have full confidence that Salty and I and Shoppy and I will be able to do.''

As for his first outing of the season, Beckett was reasonably happy with the result.

"I felt like I stayed strong through it,'' said Beckett. "I was getting a little bit big out of the stretch in the second inning there (when he issued two walks) and just couldn't make the adjustment.''

Of particular emphasis was his changeup, which he threw more than he otherwise might just to get a better feel for it.

"I think I threw about nine of them,'' recounted Beckett, "and I threw three of them where I wanted them.''

Kraft on possible Patriots reunion with Revis: 'I would love it'

Kraft on possible Patriots reunion with Revis: 'I would love it'

It was reported last week that multiple NFL executives are convinced that Darrelle Revis will return to the New England Patriots next season.

Talking with the New York Daily News, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’d be open to a reunion with the 31-year-old cornerback.

“I would love it,” Kraft said. “Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”

Asked if the team has had discussions with Revis, Kraft said “ask my boy,” in reference to coach Bill Belichick.

Revis spent the 2014 season with the Patriots, helping them win Super Bowl XLIX. He bolted back to the New York Jets the next season, signing a five-year, $70 million contract ($39 million guaranteed).

The Jets released Revis earlier this month after the incident in Pittsburgh. A judge dismissed the charges.

Kraft says intention is not to trade Butler: 'We hope he's with us'

Kraft says intention is not to trade Butler: 'We hope he's with us'

PHOENIX -- The idea that Malcolm Butler could be traded by the Patriots before the start of the 2017 season has been floated for weeks. But if Robert Kraft had his way, he'd like for the hero of Super Bowl XLIX to stick around. 

At the Biltmore hotel on Day 2 of the league's annual meetings, Kraft was asked if he anticipated having Butler back in New England for next season.

"I sure hope so," he said. "We have [a first-round tender] out to him, and I know he has the ability to go out in the market and get someone to sign him, and then we either match it or get the first-round draft pick.

"I'm rooting, I hope, he's with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us. I have a great affection for him. He was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team, but there are a lot of people involved in that."

The Patriots can't trade any player who isn't under contract, and they can't talk about a trade for a player not on their roster. Therefore, even if the Patriots hoped to deal Butler and get something in return for the Pro Bowl-caliber corner before he hits unrestricted free agency in 2018, it's not something that the owner of the team would be at liberty to discuss with dozens of microphones in front of his face. 

The tender offer of $3.91 million for one season is still out there for Butler. He could sign it and play in New England. He could sign it and be traded. For now, Kraft says he's hoping for the former -- and insists that the Patriots didn't have designs on the latter all along.

"I don't want to, in any way, take away from his rights [as a restricted free agent]," he said, adding, "I want to be clear. I hope he's with us."