Josh Beckett's locker had been cleared out at Angel Stadium. His bad hip acted up again Wednesday, and the Dodgers traded for a replacement pitcher on Thursday. The Dodgers might never see him again, at least not in their uniform.
If the Dodgers play deep into October, Beckett might be a distant memory. Even in his absence, however, the Dodgers wanted to salute a teammate who arrived at spring training with little more than hope, then threw a no-hitter and nearly pitched his way onto the All-Star team.
"For him to do what he did was pretty special," ace Clayton Kershaw said.
The Dodgers acquired pitcher Roberto Hernandez from the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, in time to start in Beckett's place Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Manager Don Mattingly said the Dodgers would await word from the team's medical staff about whether Beckett would miss the rest of the season.
Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said he also hopes to acquire a swingman to replace the injured Paul Maholm.
"There's another pitcher out there we're trying to get," Colletti said.
Colletti said he would continue to search for late-inning relievers, and for additional back-end starters.
"Right now, the best choice we have is Roberto," Colletti said.
Hernandez, 33, known as Fausto Carmona until he was revealed to have falsified his identity, went 6-8 with a 3.87 earned-run average for the Phillies. The Dodgers will assume his remaining salary — a little less than $1.5 million — and the Phillies will get one month to determine which two low-level minor leaguers they would like from a list of four players.
Colletti said the Dodgers already had scouted Hernandez, but trade talks "accelerated" late Wednesday so that the deal could be completed before news of the Beckett injury could break and "Ruben could hold me up for even more," referring to Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
If the Dodgers had not completed the deal, Mattingly said rookie Carlos Frias would have started Friday. However, Colletti said the Dodgers believe long relief is the "proper spot" for Frias right now.
The Dodgers also promoted left-hander Chris Reed to triple-A Albuquerque, and Colletti said he would watch him in person on Saturday. Reed, a first-round draft pick in 2011, went 4-8 with a 3.22 ERA at double-A Chattanooga, with five quality starts in his last six starts.
Beckett, 34, is expected to be put on the disabled list for the 18th time in his 14-year career. He ended last season on the disabled list, after a complex operation that involved removal of a rib.
He is making $15.75 million this season, the last in a contract the Dodgers inherited in order to acquire Adrian Gonzalez from the Boston Red Sox.
Rick Honeycutt, the Dodgers' pitching coach, said the team was not counting on Beckett this season.
"We didn't know how he would feel," Honeycutt said. "We didn't know how well he would come back. It was a longshot."
In the first half, Beckett went 6-5 with a 2.26 ERA, highlighted by a May 25 no-hitter in Philadelphia. His performance went beyond any best-case scenario the Dodgers had envisioned.
"Without a doubt," Honeycutt said. "I know he wants to finish the season. Hopefully, they can calm this thing down, and he can still pitch this year. You just don't know.
"But what he was able to give us was great. To top it off with a no-hitter in a year you didn't even know you were able to be going to pitch is pretty special."
Catcher A.J. Ellis said the Dodgers would not be leading the National League West without Beckett, who helped the team weather an April without the injured Kershaw.
"He was like a de facto ace for us within a six-week stretch," Ellis said of Beckett. "The lift he gave us with the no-hitter added energy to our ballclub. Without that, we wouldn't be where we are in the standings. We'd be chasing."
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