Josh Beckett feels “great” after thoracic outlet surgery

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Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett had his season cut short last July due to thoracic outlet surgery, but he’s ready to reclaim his spot in the starting rotation this spring.

According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Beckett threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session today without any visible discomfort. Interestingly, he said that he felt numbness and tingling in his fingers “for years” and often “had no idea where [the baseball] was going to go.” He’s hoping for better results after surgery.

But now, “I’m not tentative,” Beckett said. “I’m going to throw as hard as I can and see what happens. Right now, I feel great. I’ll throw the ball until I blow out and I’m hoping that’s not for a few more years.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly isn’t making any promises, but Beckett is the likely favorite for the fifth spot in the starting rotation if healthy and effective. The Dodgers added left-hander Paul Maholm on a one-year deal over the weekend as an insurance policy.

Beckett, who turns 34 in May, is owed $15.75 million this season in the final year of a four-year, $68 million contract originally signed with the Red Sox.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.