LOS ANGELES – As an injured observer watching from the sidelines, Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett knows exactly what he’s seeing when he watches Dodgers teammate Clayton Kershaw on the mound.
Maybe the best pitcher the game has ever seen.
“I know he hasn’t been doing it for that long, but he could possibly be the best pitcher ever,” Beckett said Sunday. “He’s that good.”
Beckett made his remarks after returning for a checkup following surgery in July in which a rib in his right side was removed to relieve pressure on his nerves. The condition had caused numbness and tingling in his fingers.
Beckett, who lives in Dallas, said he has been watching the Dodgers play on TV, which only confirmed what he knew about Kershaw, who leads the majors with a 1.72 ERA.
“I tell everybody I know, ‘As good as you think he is, he’s better than that.’ And that’s hard to do because everybody thinks he’s good. But when you get to watch him on a daily basis, it’s kind of ridiculous.
“Coming over here last year, I knew he was good. He exceeded my expectations. I told my (Boston Red Sox) buddies, it’s the consistency, and on days when he doesn’t have his good stuff, it’s somehow still eight innings, one run, eight innings, two runs. It’s pretty awesome to watch.”
Beckett, who was part of the nine-player trade last August that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto from Boston, hasn’t pitched since May 13. But he said he’s far ahead of schedule following surgery and intends to begin throwing off a bullpen mound next Wednesday.
He would have come back sooner, he said, but his rehab was interrupted recently by the birth of his daughter. As it is, he’ll start throwing seven weeks after surgery.
“We’re ahead of schedule right now,” he said. “I missed a week when my wife had the baby. That’s kind of where we ended up at seven weeks and not six weeks. I think I could’ve thrown this week had that not happened.”
Beckett said he plans to throw three times off a mound, then rest until beginning his offseason workout program in December.
Being able to test his arm, he said, important “because if I do that, then I can get over those mental blocks now.
“You’ve got to test it eventually. Basically what I want to do is build it up now so when I get to December, I don’t have any apprehension or anxiety about how things are going to go.”
He laughed at a question about whether he might be ready to pitch in the postseason for the Dodgers.
“If anything, an insurance policy would be it,” he said. “Nobody’s planning on that. I think we’re planning on spring training 2014.”