The numbness and tingling would come and go, usually in a day or two. For Josh Beckett, this went on for years, an uncomfortable side effect of pitching for a living.
The time, the condition persisted for six weeks, affecting his everyday life.
“I’d try to drive with my right hand,” Beckett said, “and my right hand would go numb.”
He could pitch, he said, but his arm would feel weak and heavy.
“I’d throw a bullpen, and I couldn’t feel my hand,” he said.
Beckett is set to undergo surgery next week, in which a rib is expected to be removed to relieve pressure on a compressed nerve. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter had a similar procedure last year, in which the surgeon used what Carpenter called “a pair of hedge-clipping looking things” to extract a rib, then cut away to muscles in his neck.
Beckett is expected to resume throwing before the season ends, more to put him on a normal course for spring training than to try to get him back for the pennant stretch.
“That would be a miracle-case scenario,” Beckett said. “Being ready for next year, and for spring training, without any limitations is probably the most realistic goal.”
Before opting for surgery, Beckett tried a rehabilitation program that involved adjustments to his breathing and hip position, in the hope of relieving the discomfort. However, he said, his doctor warned him the symptoms probably would return as soon as Beckett resumed throwing.
Beckett, 33, is 0-5 with a 5.19 earned-run average. The Dodgers acquired him from the Boston Red Sox last August. They are paying him $15.75 million this season and again next season, the last one in his contract.
“The most frustrating thing is just the time. I’ve never missed this much time,” Beckett said. “I’ve kind of just been a body around here.”
Beckett has been on the disabled list 15 times in his career. but he said he never has had surgery, despite pitching more than 1,900 innings.
“Hopefully, we can get another 1,900 innings in,” he joked. “Then the next one won’t matter.”