MESA, Ariz. — Josh Beckett was hoping for more out of his third Cactus League start than three innings and 44 pitches.
Because of a right thumb contusion that worsened as the game went on, Beckett was pulled Friday against the Chicago Cubs before reaching his four-inning, 65-pitch target. The veteran right-hander was already staying away from throwing curveballs, the pitch that gave him the most discomfort, before head athletic trainer Stan Conte and manager Don Mattingly decided to pull him altogether.
Beckett doesn’t think the injury is serious but said he’ll visit a doctor next week if needed.
“It’s frustrating but it could have happened at a worse time,” he said. “I think right now we’re dealing with it the best we can. If I need a couple days off, we’ll do that. I just don’t want to fall too far behind.”
The injury isn’t related to the right thumb ligament that bothered Beckett in Boston early in the 2012 season with Boston. That injury affected the inside of his right thumb; this one affects the outside, he said.
Eleven days ago, Beckett’s right thumb “got slammed on the outside of a door,” he said. “Somebody was opening the door and — you know how they have signs that say ‘in’ and ‘out’? Somebody came out the in.”
In spite of the injury, Beckett’s fastball and changeup were effective against the Cubs. He allowed one hit, an infield single by Emilio Bonifacio, walked two and struck out one in three scoreless innings.
Beckett and right-hander Zack Greinke have both been ruled out from making the trip next week to Sydney, Australia, leaving the Dodgers with four healthy starters — Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren and Paul Maholm — one week before the beginning of the regular season.
Fortunately, the schedule will allow the Dodgers to can get with on four starters until mid-April. Beckett shouldn’t need that long.
“It’s not getting worse but it’s not getting better,” he said. “I’m just going to evaluate, maybe see a doctor again next week.”
After Beckett and Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks were pulled with the score tied 0-0, both offenses came awake against the bullpens. Jamey Wright (four runs allowed in the sixth inning) and Javy Guerra (walk, single, RBI groundout in the fourth) allowed all the Cubs’ runs.
The Dodgers (5-9-4) clawed back to make the game close. Miguel Rojas doubled and scored on an RBI triple by Dee Gordon in the fifth inning. Alex Guerrero hit a two-run double off Jose Veras in the seventh inning. Drew Butera hit a solo home run to center field off Alberto Cabrera in the ninth inning to provide the final score.
The box score is here.
Some more notes and observations:
• The collection of bad batting averages is growing: Yasiel Puig went 0 for 4, lowering his to .152; Carl Crawford went 1 for 4 to raise his average to .154. A.J. Ellis (.111) and Joc Pederson (.200) — who struck out in both his plate appearances — didn’t help themselves either.
• The list of players who did help themselves is about as long. Gordon went 2 for 3, Rojas went 2 for 3 with two doubles. Guerrero seemed sharper after stockpiling at-bats in minor league games most of the week. Chris Withrow and Paco Rodriguez threw scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
• The announced attendance of 15,191 at Cubs Park set a Cactus League record. A game between the Dodgers and Giants at Camelback Ranch stood as the Cactus League record until the Cubs’ new facility opened this year with an official capacity of 15,000.
• Dodgers prospect Corey Seager played three innings at shortstop and struck out in his only at-bat against Cabrera in the ninth inning.