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Josh Beckett expects to be ready for regular season, whatever the role

The right-hander said Monday he was trying to win a job and would be open to pitching in relief if the Dodgers asked.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE -- Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett reported to camp on Monday, free of any symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome that he said he dealt with on and off for several years. He plans on being ready once the domestic regular season begins.

"I don't have numbness and tingling in my thumbs anymore," Beckett said. "I think my velocity is going to come back. I feel like I'm throwing as hard right now with less effort than I did all of last year."

Beckett said the nerve problems go back to his Boston days, but usually the problems would subside quickly. In 2013 with the Dodgers, the numbness in his fingers lingered for longer than six weeks, and got so bad he couldn't drive with his right hand.

On the mound it didn't hurt Beckett to pitch, but he said he had no feel for any of his pitches and was tentative as a result. Beckett in eight starts in 2013 was 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA. He struck out 41 in 43⅓ innings, but also allowed eight home runs.

In July Beckett had surgery in Dallas to remove the top rib on his right side to relieve pressure on his nerves. Chris Carpenter had to retire after a similar surgery, though Carpenter also had a shoulder procedure that made his situation a little different. Beckett said Carpenter helped him prepare mentally both before and after his procedure.

Beckett said he had no doubt he would be ready to pitch once the regular season begins, though he was referring to the March 30 season opener in San Diego rather than the two games in Australia against the Diamondbacks on March 22-23.

He has thrown three times before camp: off a mound on Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, and 38 pitches off flat ground on Feb. 6, the latter moved inside because it was 26 degrees at Beckett's home in Texas. Beckett threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session on Monday at Camelback Ranch.

"There may be a couple guys in here that have thrown more than that off a mound, but that's pretty far advanced this early in February," Beckett said. "Not all of us are trying to get ready for [Australia]. We're trying to get ready for the regular season, and we have a little bit more time than it may appear."

The Dodgers do have the luxury of time with Beckett thanks to several off days early in the schedule. The team won't need to use a fifth starter until as late as April 19, their 18th game of the season, if they so choose.

"If he's healthy, Josh is going to throw the ball good," manager Don Mattingly said. "This is a guy that's been a quality pitcher for a long time and he's still got good stuff. How he bounces back, we'll see."

As an insurance policy of sorts, the Dodgers also signed Paul Maholm to a one-year deal on Saturday.

"I'm here to try and win a job, and let the upper management take care of all the other stuff," Beckett said.

"Josh hasn't been in the pen, but obviously you're in a competitive situation," Mattingly said. "We're not here handing anything out to anybody."

Beckett has made three relief appearances in his major league career, and none since 2013. Maholm, who similarly has made one relief appearance in his eight years, said Sunday that he'd be willing to pitch out of the bullpen if needed. Beckett echoed those sentiments when asked if he would be willing to pitch in relief.

"I want to be with the Dodgers," Beckett said. "I felt like I was treated really good last year through everything, and I'd like to help repay that."