BOSTON (AP) – Josh Beckett would love jersey No. 21, but the newest member of Boston’s starting rotation knows the Red Sox might not hand over Roger Clemens’ old number.

“I’m going to wear whatever they give me,” Beckett said when asked about his boyhood idol and fellow Texan. “It would definitely mean something to me.”

Beckett, in a conference call Saturday from his offseason ranch, said he’s “pumped” to be playing for a passionate fan base after coming from the Florida Marlins.

Boston acquired the hard-throwing 25-year-old in a seven-player deal that was completed on Thanksgiving. The Red Sox traded four prospects to the Marlins for Beckett, third baseman Mike Lowell and reliever Guillermo Mota.

“It’s a new chapter in my life,” Beckett said. “It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.”

Beckett talked to Kevin Millar, who was the Red Sox first baseman for the past three seasons, and Red Sox pitcher David Wells to get a feel for Boston. Wells has asked to be traded, and has cited a lack of privacy in Boston, but Beckett says being in the spotlight won’t bother him.

“I’m from a relatively small town. I basically live on a ranch in the offseason,” he said. “I don’t think it necessarily befits my persona (but) I don’t foresee it being a problem.”

Beckett was the MVP of the 2003 World Series, when the Marlins beat the New York Yankees. He’s knows all about the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, but he’s downplaying the hype.

“We’ve got a lot of games against other (teams), too, that we’ve got to win,” Beckett said.

It is the second time in three years that Boston has traded for a potential ace over Thanksgiving. In 2003, the Red Sox acquired Curt Schilling from the Arizona Diamondbacks and rode him to the World Series title the next year.

Beckett went 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA last season, when he had problems with his shoulder and recurring blisters on his right middle finger. He said his shoulder is fine.

“I’ve got great strength in all my muscles,” he said.

He is eligible for salary arbitration and expected to make between $4 million and $5 million next season. He can become a free agent after the 2007 season, and said Saturday that he doesn’t know if the Red Sox and his agent have discussed a long-term contract.

Boston traded top shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez, plus minor league pitchers Harvey Garcia, Anibal Sanchez and Jesus Delgado in the deal.

Ramirez, 21, considered one of Boston’s top prospect, hit .271 with six homers, 52 RBIs and 26 stolen bases at Double-A Portland last season before going 0-for-2 with the Red Sox during a September call-up.

Lowell, 31, won a Gold Glove this year but his offense dropped off drastically and he is owed $9 million each of the next two seasons.

AP-ES-11-26-05 1524EST

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