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.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.