LOS ANGELES -- Injured Dodgers starting pitcher Josh Beckett hopes four weeks of aggressive rehabilitation on his right shoulder will keep him out of the operating room.
Beckett had been pitching for much of the season despite numbness and tingling in the fingers of his pitching hand before going on the disabled list last month. He met with nerve specialist Dr. Gregory Pearl on Monday in Dallas, where he learned his condition is similar to a number of pitchers, including Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals, Mike Adams of the Phillies and Matt Harrison of the Rangers.
Each of those pitchers, though, had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a procedure that involves removing an upper rib that compresses nerve tissue near the neck and shoulder.
"You always want to avoid surgery, if you can," said Beckett, who spoke about his condition with Carpenter and plans to contact Harrison. "We're going to try a lot of different things in the next four weeks and then reassess things. If it works, great. That's the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario, there's been guys that have come back from this surgery in three months."
Beckett said he could rehab longer than four weeks if he feels he's progressing, but he doesn't want this to "leak into next year, either."
"I think at some point, we just have to make a decision on what's best for me and what's best for the organization moving forward," Beckett said. "I think that those two things go together. What's best for the organization is being healthy and helping this team win next year if I can't do it this year."
Regardless, Beckett has a long road ahead of him before he's able to step back on a mound.
"It's tough," he said. "I don't want to walk around here in a ski mask and steal paychecks. That's not fun. I want to help these guys win and be a part of that."
Lefty Elbert needs Tommy John surgery
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers left-handed relief pitcher Scott Elbert will undergo Tommy John elbow reconstruction next week and will be sidelined for 12 to 16 months, the club revealed on Wednesday.
Elbert had another setback recently while trying to return from a pair of elbow operations. The first procedure, Sept. 19, removed scar tissue in the back of the elbow. A Jan. 23 arthroscopic microfracture procedure involved a new area of cartilage damage.
Despite all that, an MRI exam on Tuesday revealed that Elbert had a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, which holds his left elbow together. Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform Elbert's surgery.
Elbert's operation in January led the Dodgers to sign free agent lefty J.P. Howell to a $2.85 million contract during the offseason. Howell has a 2.42 ERA and just had a 12-inning scoreless streak snapped.
Elbert, a 27-year-old former first-round pick, went 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA over 43 appearances last year before being placed on the disabled list for a second time at the end of August.
His injury provided an opening for lefty Paco Rodriguez, who was the first player from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft to reach the Major Leagues and had a 1.35 ERA in 11 appearances last year.
Puig's splash leaves positive wake in LA clubhouse
LOS ANGELES -- In just two games, outfielder Yasiel Puig has already brought a renewed energy to the Dodgers' clubhouse and to Dodger Stadium.
Puig capped his Major League debut on Monday by throwing a dart from the warning track in right field to first base, doubling off the Padres' Chris Denorfia to preserve a 2-1 win. On Tuesday, he went 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs and five RBIs to rally the Dodgers for a 9-7 victory.
"It's hard not to be impressed," manager Don Mattingly said.
Puig's throw to end Monday's game earned him his first Major League curtain call. He had two more Tuesday following each of his homers.
"I feel very happy that the fans are here to cheer me on," Puig said on Wednesday through an interpreter. "Obviously they're very happy that the team is winning. I'm very happy to be here in L.A."
The Dodgers are happy to have Puig, too.
Puig is the second player in Major League history with a two-homer, five-RBI performance within the first two games of his career. The only other time that happened was in 1949, when Dino Restelli accomplished the feat with the Pirates.
The records don't end there.
Puig is the first Dodgers player with a multihomer game in his first two games, the first with five RBIs in one of his first two games since Spider Jorgensen had six in 1947 and the first with multihit games in the first two games of his career since Larry Miller in 1964.
So what's next?
"I don't know what's going to happen," Puig said. "I just need to go out there and do my best. I can't predict the future. You've got to give your best every day."
Puig does give his best every day, that's evident in the way he plays the game.
"He plays with such joy and that's really what we love," Mattingly said. "He's definitely brought some energy, but you don't just bring energy unless you go produce and I think that's what we've seen. You're not going to spark any body if you go out and go 0-for-4, but he's not doing that. By producing, he creates energy."
Guerrier OK following comebacker scare
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier might return to action in a day or two after escaping serious injury when he was struck by a line drive on his pitching hand on Tuesday night.
Guerrier still had swelling, the baseball seam marks on the top of his hand between the index finger and thumb and a cracked thumbnail, but he was able to play a firm catch on flat ground Wednesday.
He threw fastballs without discomfort, but his thumbnail hurt on breaking balls.
"He's only a little tender in the nail area, it's surprising," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's not a DL guy, we think this would be really short term."
Guerrier was hit on the bare hand by a liner from the Padres' Yasmani Grandal, then threw him out at first to end the inning.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.