With assist from Koufax, Beckett starts off strong

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ten springs ago, Sandy Koufax spent a few days in the Marlins' camp at the invitation of his former batterymate and then-Florida manager Jeff Torborg. Among the pitchers he worked with was a 22-year-old fifth starter named Josh Beckett.

"You can imagine how excited I was 10 years ago," Beckett said. "It was pretty special."

A decade later, Beckett is trying to recapture some of the magic that followed those sessions, and he credited Koufax after throwing two scoreless innings with three strikeouts against the Giants on Tuesday in his first Dodgers spring game.

"A lot of it is my line [toward home plate]," said Beckett, a three-time All-Star coming off a 7-14 season. "We worked 10 years ago with the idea of where I need to be, and my line sometimes isn't as direct as it needs to be."

To combat that, Beckett said he's felt most comfortable pitching out of the stretch during his spring bullpen sessions. He seemed surprised that he maintained his line toward home plate while pitching out of the windup Tuesday.

"This was only the second time I pitched out of the windup since my last game in L.A. last year," he said.

Beckett took more time off from throwing during the offseason. That and the tweaks Koufax suggested apparently have left him feeling fresher than he expected.

"This is easier on my body," he said. "I've thrown a lot of batting practice and this is the first time I can ever remember going in feeling like I can put something on the ball."

Beckett also complimented pitching coach Rick Honeycutt for "personalizing" a throwing program designed to have him ready for Opening Day and not linked to rigid benchmarks during the spring.