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Josh Beckett exits start with right thumb contusion

Beckett was dealing with a sprained thumb prior to his Friday start.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

MESA -- Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett left his start on Friday against the Cubs with a right thumb contusion after pitching just three innings in a 5-4 loss to Chicago. He was scheduled to pitch four innings today.

Beckett said he will likely have his thumb re-examined in the next few days, in Arizona.

Beckett revealed earlier in the week that he had a sprained thumb, suffered earlier in camp by jamming it in the clubhouse doors. He was limited to mostly fastballs in his last start, on March 8 against the Mariners, as well as his bullpen session on Wednesday.

"The pitch that's really bothering him more than anything is the breaking ball, so I'm sure we'll see more fastball and change," said manager Don Mattingly before the game. "We'll see where it goes."

In his three innings against the Cubs, Beckett allowed no runs on one hit and two walks, with one strikeout. He said he felt soreness mostly on the curve ball, but in the third inning the soreness was more prevalent on every pitch, so Mattingly and trainer Stan Conte decided to remove Beckett after just 44 pitches.

"It's still sore," Beckett said. "It's not getting worse, but it's not getting better."

If there was a positive for Beckett, it was his five ground ball outs in three innings.

"I always feel like if I'm getting ground balls I'm doing fine, even if they're rolling in for hits during spring training," he said. "Getting ground balls means you're fingers are on top of the ball and you're getting decent plane."

Beckett was already scheduled to stay behind in Arizona when the team leaves for Australia, so this might not be much of a setback in terms of getting ready for the regular season. He was asked, somewhat facetiously, if this injury ruled him out for the trip to Sydney.

"I'm not going to answer that," Beckett said. "Probably not. They have probably better options for those games."

Thanks to numerous off days in the early part of the Dodgers' regular season schedule, they could potentially go without a fifth starter until as late as April 19.

"It's frustrating, but it could have happened at a worse time," Beckett said. "If I need a couple of days off, I'm able to do that, but I just don't want to fall too far behind."

A thumb injury to Beckett gives the Dodgers an avenue to possibly place him on the disabled list and open up a roster spot for another relief pitcher, for at least the first 17 games of the season.

Up next

The Dodgers will play two games on Saturday, both at Camelback Ranch. Sam Demel and a gaggle of minor league pitchers will throw against the Padres in the day game, and Clayton Kershaw starts against the Rockies in the nightcap.

Friday particulars

Home runs: Luis Valbuena (1), Drew Butera (1)

WP - Carlos Villanueva (1-0): 3 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 2 strikeouts

LP - Jamey Wright (1-1): 1 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 2 strikeouts

Sv - Alberto Cabrera (2): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 3 strikeouts