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.''

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

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McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

When will Bill Belichick retire? The Patriots coach is 64 years old, and he's been on record saying that he won't be coaching into his 70s like former Bills head coach Marv Levy. But it sure seems like Belichick has plenty of energy to stay at the job for some time, and the results, you may have noticed, have been pretty good. 

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joined WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning, and he was asked about how much longer his boss might work. Would McDaniels be surprised if Belichick coached into his 70s despite what he said on NFL Network's A Football Life documentary back in 2009?

"It wouldn't surprise me," McDaniels said. "I know Bill loves football. His drive and his passion for the game and to try to do everything we can to prepare our team to win each week, I haven't seen one change in it. It's a great privilege to coach for him. He certainly kind of sets the tone for us. I don't see any difference in that since when I first started here. I look forward to coaching for him for as long as he'll let me."

Some have speculated that McDaniels could be the next head coach of the Patriots whenever Belichick decides to hang up his whistle. The 40-year-old has been up for head coaching positions since he's returned for his second stint in New England, but he's still with the organization that gave him his first NFL job in 2001. 

McDaniels, who left to be the head coach of the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, was asked if he values the offensive coordinator job with the Patriots more than a head coaching opportunity that might not be the perfect fit.

"I love where I'm at," McDaniels said. "I've said before I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and potentially move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn't. But I know this: I'm really thankful to have the opprtunity that I have to coach the players we have here and to work underneath Bill and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It's a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. Just thankful that I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week."

Pierce to play one more season with Clippers, then retire

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Pierce to play one more season with Clippers, then retire

It's official: Paul Pierce will play one more season -- but only one more season -- in the NBA.

The former Celtics star announced today in a video post on The Players Tribune site that he will return to the Clippers in 2016-17, then will retire at the end of the year.

"[I’ve] got one more ride left," said Pierce. "One more season. One more opportunity . . . With the Clippers, in the city where I grew up, I feel like I have that opportunity on a great team. We’re hungry. We want to win a championship."