Dodgers not ruling out Beckett return

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t the healthiest group at the moment with key contributors Juan Uribe, Hanley Ramirez and Hyun-Jin Ryu all landing on the disabled list over the last ten days. No one in that trio, though, is expected to miss significant time. Good depth on the roster and a 4.5 game lead over San Francisco in the NL West heading into Sunday’s game against Milwaukee allow the Dodgers to be safe before sorry.

Whether Josh Beckett returns to the mound this year, though, is a far dicier proposition.

Beckett was placed on the disabled list Aug. 9 (retroactive to Aug. 4) with a recurrence of the left hip impingement shelving him in July. While his season-long numbers (2.88 ERA in 115.2 IP) are strong, Beckett pitched poorly in his first attempt to come back from the injury, allowing 11 earned runs, including five home runs, in 12 innings over three starts. He has since been replaced in the rotation by Roberto Hernandez, acquired on Aug. 7 from Philadelphia.

Sunday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said there’s still a chance Beckett might return. At the very least, the team is working towards it.

“I’ve not heard anything about him getting shut down for the whole year or anything like that,” Mattingly said. “We’re going to do everything we can to have him have the opportunity to pitch again this year.”

The Dodgers, said Mattingly, have no deadline in mind by which Beckett would have to get healthy. For Beckett, it’s a matter of whether he’ll recover in time to make a contribution. A surgical option would end his season, but Mattingly didn’t give any impression Beckett was rushing towards it.

“This is not like he feels like he’s got 10 more years to play and needs to do surgery now so he’s able to get ready for spring training,” he said.

Were Beckett to return, it would be as a starter, Mattingly said. “I don’t think Josh is a guy who is going to come out of the bullpen for us.”

In 335 career appearances, Beckett has appeared in relief three times, all coming in 2002 and 2003 with the Florida Marlins.