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Brandon Beachy, Dodgers will be conservative in comeback

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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- New Dodgers pitcher Brandon Beachy isn't willing to put a timetable on his return to a major league mound. But he is confident he'll be the same pitcher he was before three elbow surgeries in a 21-month span.

"No doubt in my mind," Beachy said.

The right-hander had his second Tommy John surgery in March 2014, performed by Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. A likely timetable has Beachy ready some time around midseason, but both the team and the player want to be totally sure.

"I have faith in Dr. ElAttrache. His vision meshes very well with what I be able to hope to do" Beachy said. ""Listening to my arm, getting me healthy. To be able to contribute and do it for a while. I'm not going to say I'm going to put a date on it. It's going to be slow, and whatever works."

Beachy said on Saturday, 11 months to the day removed from surgery, that he is throwing now between 90-105 feet. Nothing too strenuous, but enough to keep the arm active. Dodgers special assistant Pat Corrales saw Beachy throw three times in January.

"He wasn't throwing off a mound, but just seeing a guy at that stage, seeing the physical conditioning - and Brandon is a guy who is in great shape," said general manager Farhan Zaidi, "at least seeing the arm work, seeing at he was in the early stages of rehab going well was definitely a part of the equation."

It was enough for the Dodgers to guarantee $2.75 million for Beachy, who has thrown 111 innings in the last three seasons combined. But the upside is tremendous.

"If you just talk about a ceiling for a guy like this, even before he got hurt just based on his big league performance he's a mid-rotation or better guy," Zaidi said. "That upside is very appealing to us, and was to other teams that were pursuing him as well."

Zaidi agreed with the slow and steady approach for Beachy's rehab.

"We're going to be conservative with it because it's his second one and we have an investment in him not just for 2015 but 2016 as well," Zaidi said. "We're hoping he'll be ready to go midseason, All-Star break, in that range, but that's just a guess. His timeline will be determined by how well he progresses."

Beachy not only had two Tommy John surgeries - the first one in June 2012 - but also had an arthroscopic procedure in September 2013 to remove a bone spur and debride inflamed tissue in his right elbow. Those two surgeries were performed by Dr. James Andrews, and were followed by a second Tommy John, performed by ElAttrache, in March last year.

That upside is very appealing to us -Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi on Brandon Beachy

"It's not a fun process. It's definitely a test of patience, perseverance. Going through it a second time was harder, definitely, mentally," Beachy said. "But it feels worth it at this point, and it's going to feel even more so that way a few months from now."

Saturday provided a reminder of the importance of starting pitching depth in the form of a lubricating injection in the right elbow of Zack Greinke, though that was downplayed as planned routine maintenance. The fact is, every member of the Dodgers rotation has had some malady of some sort to deal with in the last year or two. Knowing that Beachy could be ready by the All-Star break or so is much more promising than needing to trade for Roberto Hernandez of Kevin Correia.

"That's been something we've said repeatedly. The average team uses 10-12 starting pitchers over the course of the season," Zaidi said. "Having that starting pitching depth staggered, by the time he's ramping up our starting pitching depth might look different than it was now."