By: Nick Roark
The 2013 season looked to be a promising one for Dallas Beeler. The Tennessee Smokies starter had built a 4-2 record with a 3.13 ERA and looked as if he would surpass his win total from last year by mid-June.
All of that momentum came to a screeching halt in late May as the right-handed Beeler tore a tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand. Having been on the disabled list since May 23, the 6-foot-5 Oklahoma native now has cautiously optimism in his road to recovery.
“It’s coming along,” Beeler said. “I’m able to actually throw a ball now. Next up is bullpens I think so it’s coming along, but it’s a slow process.”
“You can only do so much kind of rehabbing for a finger,” Beeler said. “A lot of it is more of just letting it heal and then trying to get the strength built back up in it.”
The injury to his finger marks the second time the 24-year-old pitcher has spent an extended amount of time on the DL. While at Oral Roberts University in 2010, Beeler missed a majority of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
“I know the feeling already, and it sucks, but it’s part of it,” Beeler said of spending time on the DL. “You just want to do anything you can that makes it feel like you’re a part of the team because you really can’t participate in anything.”
The 2010 Cubs’ draft pick has stayed involved by catching every ceremonial first pitch at Smokies Park since being sidelined. Putting on his glove and catching dozens of first pitches is all part of keeping himself busy, the right-hander said.
“The biggest thing for me right now is just trying to occupy myself and not drive myself crazy,” Beeler said. “I’m just trying to find little tidbits here and there where I can actually participate.”
Beeler last pitched on May 18 at Chattanooga, earning his fourth win while allowing two earned runs in six innings pitched. According to the Smokies’ starter, the reason for his early season success was the development of a split-finger pitch in the offseason.
“It was really coming along this year,” Beeler said. “It was a good out pitch for me.”
“One of the big things [in returning] is going to be control and then developing and getting back to where I was with that split-finger,” Beeler said.
The 210-pound hurler said, “it’s a little too early to say” whether he will be back in the rotation for a playoff push, but that he would be excited to pitch behind the Southern League’s top lineup.
“It’s deadly to say the least,” Beeler said of his team’s offense. “Everybody in the lineup has the potential to … make a big play up at the plate, be a game changer.”
“You can’t ask for much more as a pitcher,” Beeler said. “If you’re not having a good day, there’s a likely chance that the hitters are going to keep you guys in it that day.”
With the promotions of their two best pitchers in Alberto Cabrera and Kyle Hendricks, the Smokies rotation could use Beeler’s experience to strengthen a staff that currently holds two active pitchers with starts in the Southern League prior to this season.
“I’d love to be back to help the team out,” Beeler said, “but it’s just a waiting game.”
To stay current with all the latest news, follow Smokies on Radio on Twitter and like the Smokies on Radio Facebook page. Nick Roark is the Senior Beat Writer for the Smokies Radio Network. You can follow him on Twitter here: NickRoark4.