Josh Beckett's season wasn't amounting to a hill of beans until he stumbled upon a 5-pound bag of rice.
Now, after more than a month on the sideline, the $5 million bonus baby appears to have solved his blister problem.
"Was it Uncle Ben's?" retired pitcher and fellow blister sufferer Bert Blyleven wondered.
"It was generic Publix," Marlins trainer Sean Cunningham told the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post. "You have to be budget conscious."
Actually, the Marlins spared no expense in trying to cure the tip of the prized pitcher's right middle index finger. It's just that none of the costly lotions and ointments was doing the job until Beckett started dipping his finger into a tub of rice for two or three minutes. The rice dries the skin, reducing the chance that more irritation will develop.
Beckett returned to the starting rotation last week.
The rice is the latest in a long, odd line of cures for blisters, which develop because of the friction generated when the fingertips rub against the baseball's seams.
The New York Mets' Al Leiter, Beckett's mound opponent in his first game back, used to treat his sore epidermis with Gluteraldehyde, a concoction he dubbed "Leiter Fluid."
Blyleven manicured his blisters between innings with a needle.
The Texas Rangers' Ismael Valdes used Super Glu.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' Hideo Nomo was told to drink snake oil. (He didn't.)
Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan dipped his fingers in pickle brine.
The Marlins' Julian Tavarez's was embarrassed to divulge his remedy.
"I don't mean to be gross," he said, "but you pee on it."
His woes are skin deep
Beckett isn't the only athlete whose skin has led to trouble.
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brian Anderson once cut his finger as he tried to pull up a jammed atomizer plunger from a bottle of cologne. He also once burned his cheek testing an iron to see if it was hot. And he also once locked himself out of a hotel room stark naked, supposedly sleepwalking.
In a related item, a nude Canadian writer locked himself out of his hotel room at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
"He covered himself with a newspaper," Michael Ventre of MSNBC.com wrote. "This is a great argument for getting your news the old-fashioned way instead of downloading it with one of those Palm organizers."
Strip, but no tease
Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg in the San Francisco Chronicle: "After watching the World Cup, one of the many things I don't understand about soccer is ripping off your shirt after a goal.
"We should pray this trend does not find its way to the Senior PGA Tour."
They're putting us on
Comedy writer Jerry Perisho: "Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, is trying to stop its seniors from participating in their annual end-of-the-school-year nude soccer game. It's a weird scene. When someone scores a goal, they run around and pull on a shirt."
Finally, from the Chronicle's Tom Fitzgerald:
"A blind German psychic claims he can read people's futures by feeling their naked buttocks. We hear he's offering to demonstrate his technique to predict when Anna Kournikova will win her first tournament."
Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.