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Clubhouse beer leader Josh Beckett shows up early to spring training

As stupid as it may sound, the antics of the 2011 Boston Red Sox could turn out to be a positive thing for the 2012 edition of the team. Heading into 2011, expectations for Boston were through the roof. John Lackey was expected to have a bounce-back season and the additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez made the Sox top contenders for the World Series. Then, September happened. Red Sox fans suffered through the most embarrassing collapse in team history and information about their pitching staff pounding beers and eating junk food in the clubhouse became prevalent. Perhaps all that inspired Josh Beckett to show up early for spring training this year.

“He looked pretty sharp. He looked very healthy,’’ new pitching coach Bob McClure said after overseeing Beckett’s bullpen session.

“That’s a great sign,’’ he said when asked about Beckett showing up five days ahead of schedule. “He wants to win, that’s the bottom line. The stuff that happened last year, it happened. It’s unfortunate but it happened. He’s coming in here with something he wants to do and that’s win the division. I think it shows the rest of the guys how serious they are about wanting to get this thing going.”

It’s Boston. Expectations are still high, but now many of the Red Sox players are seen as slobs who don’t care. If that doesn’t place a chip on their shoulder, nothing will. Beckett recently spoke about the September collapse and said the issues should have remained in-house, but he knows he is considered by many to have been the ring leader.

Unlike last season when they were crowned before even playing a game, the 2012 Sox have more to prove than arguably any team in the league. They have a new manager and will be looking to make up for humiliating themselves at the end of last season. All the beer and fried chicken drama has resulted in people forgetting how loaded with talent their roster still is. If Beckett can emerge as a true ace and guys like Carl Crawford can put it together, Boston could quickly and quietly emerge as the team they should have been last year — the American League’s best.



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