You could say Josh Beckett was all thumbs this afternoon. The right hander took the mound for the Dodgers in their cactus league road tussle with the Chicago Cubs at Mesa, Arizona. It was a mixed bag for Beckett. Thumbs u for his performance of three scoreless frames, but thumbs down for his having to leave early because the thumb was hurting him. The official diagnosis is a right thumb contusion, and or strained right thumb.
Beckett was scheduled to pitch four frames, but the right hander started to experience aggravation in his thumb after the second inning, and Mattingly, Honeycutt decided to call it quits after three frames. During those three frames, Beckett pitched well. He allowed just one hit, and two walks in the three scoreless frames, and whiffed one.
The problem is the thumb injury limits him from throwing curveballs, or gripping the ball properly. Beckett was not supposed to throw any breaking balls on Friday and threw mostly fastballs. The injury on the inside of the joint and the base of the thumb started bothering him even on fastballs. The veteran right hander originally injured the thumb after accidentally closing it in a clubhouse door.
Beckett had pitched a bullpen session on Tuesday, but only threw fastballs and changeups, and didn’t throw a breaking ball until Friday afternoon. Beckett described the injury as not getting any worse, but not getting any better either.
The veteran starter will see a doctor again, probably, and said he could use a couple of days off. Beckett will get his wish, as the Dodgers won’t need him for the Australia series on March 22nd. Speaking of which, the Dodgers also don’t need his spot in the rotation until mid-April at the earliest.
Beckett is coming off of Thoracic outlet surgery, and has looked sharp at times during this spring, while also reporting feeling good despite the thumb problem. Beckett has pitched in eight frames this spring and has allowed five earned runs on eight hits with a 5.63 ERA, four whiffs and two walks in three games. It’s looking more and more likely Beckett will start the season on the disabled list.
It was also thumbs down for the game as the rest of the Dodgers would go onto lose by a score of 5-4. I know these games are meaningless but it would be nice to see the boys win one or two every now and then. Mix it up a little for cyring out loud. With the game scoreless in the fifth, the Dodgers jumped out ahead 1-0 when Miguel Rojas doubled to right, stole third base, and trotted home when Dee Gordon tripled into the right field corner. Maybe Gordon will prove me wrong and actually hit? I hope so, I’ve always liked Gordon, even though I think Guerrero is a better hitter.
The floodgates opened in the bottom of the sixth, when the Cubs scored four unanswered runs off of Jamey Wright, all with two outs. Nate Schierholtz doubled, Anthony Rizzo singled him home, and took second on a throwing error from Yasiel Puig. Former Dodger draftee Justin Ruggiano singled home Valaika, and to make it a 3-1 Cubs lead. Finally Valbuena’s two-run home run made it a 5-1 Cub’s lead.
The Dodgers would battle back though to make it close (thumbs up). They would score two in the seventh, when A.J. Elis singled, and Rojas’s double (his second double of the game) sent A.J. to third. After Joc Pederson whiffed, Alex Guerrero, (not a minor leaguer), stroked a booming double off the top of the wall to score A.J. and Rojas, and the Cub’s lead was cut to 5-3. That scoring rally was ruined though as Guerrero was somehow picked off second base for the third out. (Thumbs up)
The Dodgers scored once more in the top of the ninth. The most unlikely of players, third string catcher Drew Butera homered (thumbs up), to put the Dodgers within one run at 5-4. But that would be all. Corey Seager, and Joc Pederson would both strike out to end the game. So far you could say the Dodgers have been mostly thumbs this exhibition season.
Yasiel Puig is starting to really struggle. He went 0 for 4 on Friday (thumbs down), and is now hitting just .152 this spring. Last year at this time he was batting over .500. Is it time to start being concerned?
There is little time for the Dodgers to find the answers. Only three games remain before the club boards the plane for Sydney. The Dodgers have a split squad on Saturday, with both games at Camelback Ranch. The first game in the afternoon will see Joe Wieland counter rookie Sam Demel at 105 PM. In the night cap, the Dodgers play the white Sox, as Clayton Kershaw will battle Chris Sale in a duel of aces in a 7:05 PM start time match. Let’s hope Saturday is more thumbs up for the Dodgers.