Eleven months and one unusual surgery later, it’s the return of Josh Beckett.
Barring something unexpected, Beckett will make his season debut Wednesday night against the Detroit Tigers. No small order -- he is essentially replacing Clayton Kershaw in the rotation.
“He looks like the guy,” said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly.
Beckett has seen his comeback from summer surgery to remove a rib that was pressuring a nerve and causing finger numbness pushed back by a pair of recent injuries. His right thumb had a clubhouse door closed on it, and then Friday in his final tune-up in a Class-A game for Rancho Cucamonga, he suffered a mild ankle sprain fielding a bunt.
But he took fielding drills Tuesday and appeared to be moving without trouble.
“Everything’s fine,” Beckett said.
Beckett last pitched in a major league game on May 13. He pitched in only eight games before his season was shut down. Two months later he had the rare surgery.
Beckett remains on the 15-day disabled list, and to activate him Wednesday, the Dodgers will have to send down another pitcher, likely reliever Jose Dominguez.
“He looks like he’s ready to roll,” Mattingly said. “Unless he does something tonight to his ankle or something weird would happen we don’t foresee, he’ll be the guy.”
Other injury news:
-- Yasiel Puig remains day-to-day with his strained left thumb ligament. He was examined Tuesday by hand specialist Dr. Steve Shin.
“I think they’ve tried to fit him with a splint, to see what he can do with that,” Mattingly said. “He’s going to try and throw and hit a little bit inside. For now, he’s day-to-day and we’ll see how he goes.”
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez wore a thumb splint last season while recovering from surgery.
-- Starting pitcher Chad Billingsley’s comeback from Tommy John surgery has been pushed back a few days after he felt something in his elbow in his first rehab start Sunday, but the Dodgers believe he was simply feeling scar tissue pop.
“They don’t feel like it’s ligament-related,” Mattingly said. “He’ll get a couple of days here just to make sure of everything, slow him down a little bit and when the doctor decides he can start throwing again, he’ll be back on track.”
Billingsley said the sensation he felt in his elbow was similar to cracking your neck or back, only this raised eyebrows by coming in his elbow.
“I don’t think it’s going to be too long of a setback,” Billingsley said. “If it’s just scar tissue, it shouldn’t be too long. My arm feels pretty good right now. Just normal second-day soreness, so I guess that’s pretty good.”
-- Mattingly said catcher A.J. Ellis, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee Tuesday, was scheduled to re-join the team Wednesday.
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