Sometimes we can’t believe how quickly things change in our lives and the world around us. At the end of the same season that began with Josh Beckett as one of the top pitchers on the Los Angeles Dodgers, and at the end of the same season that he pitched a no-hitter, Beckett is walking away from the game that made him rich and famous because he can’t stay healthy.
Full-scale discouragement over his body breaking down at 34 is what led Beckett to announce after the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs by the St. Louis Cardinals that he is done. Beckett got over surgery on his right, throwing shoulder, to start 2014. But then a hip began to break down. It has been determined that before he can do much of anything physically Beckett needs an operation to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.
After going 6-6 with a 2.88 earned run average and pitching that no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25, Beckett finished the season on the disabled list. In-between, he told MLB.com, just to prepare himself to pitch a game he had to spend four hours getting ready.
That kind of effort and strain merely to step out on the mound to start a baseball game definitely makes it sound as if his body was texting Beckett an informational note. And it didn’t sound as if Beckett needed a United Nations interpreter to understand that message.
If Beckett goes through with retirement, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound hurler will finish with a record of 138-106 and a 3.88 ERA. The three Major League teams he toiled for are the Marlins, when they were called the Florida Marlins, the Boston Red Sox, and the Dodgers.
He helped both the Marlins (in 2003) and the Red Sox (in 2007) win World Series titles. Beckett was traded to the Dodgers in 2012 in the infamous swap that Boston made to clear payroll and clean out a disgruntled clubhouse. Beckett was at his worst that year with Boston, going 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA before shipped to the West Coast.
Beckett’s best overall season, though, did come with the Red Sox in 2007. That year he went 20-7 with an American League-leading number of wins, was runner-up for the Cy Young Award, and made one of his three All-Star teams. Beckett also finished 17-6 and 16-11 with the Red Sox.
Complicating Beckett’s situation besides his health history and need for surgery, is his age, and the fact that his contract with LA was up and he was about to become a free agent. Rather than being able to capitalize on that fact, Beckett would almost surely be without a team because of the hip surgery and the likelihood that he would be rehabbing for some time.
In general, for Beckett it seemed as if the situation reached critical mass and he couldn’t face the huge commitment looming ahead for him to even be close to top pitching form again. If Beckett undergoes surgery, patches his body back together, and then decides he misses baseball after all, he won’t be too old to consider a comeback. It may take another whole year to reach that point. If.