BRADENTON, Fla. — Ryan Beckman is looking to build on last year’s comeback season with a little help from his Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
The right-hander spent the entire 2012 season rehabbing after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He was fortunate enough to be able to rehab with a few major leaguers, most notably Charlie Morton, who underwent the same exact surgery at the same time as Beckman.
Morton and Beckman participated in the treatment for collateral ligaments replacement in their elbows. Morton, a five-year major leaguer, was able to teach Beckman what it was like to be a constant professional player, a lesson the 23-year-old is grateful for.
“He didn’t have to do that for me. I learned so much from him over that year,” said Beckman. “I still keep in contact with him and see him when I am in Altoona [Pennsylvania].”
The Texas native’s comeback started in 2013 by playing 13 games for the Class-A Advanced Bradenton Marauders in the Florida State League, followed by 15 games for the Double-A Altoona Curve in the Eastern League.
The minor-league veteran spent the off-season away from pitching this year as management and the coaching staff felt that it would benefit him coming into spring training. It turned out to be an excellent decision as Beckman feels better than ever entering the season.
“They gave me the off-season off,” said Beckman. “I worked out, but I didn’t throw or pitch for three months. I didn’t realize how much better I would feel.”
The former 2009 draft pick (18th round) started pitching back in January after he was given the go ahead to start throwing the ball again. Beckman spent a lot of his off-season just like any normal 23-year-old, making an honest living serving at a bar. In addition, he worked construction with a friend back in Fort Worth, Texas moving metal bins.
Beckman was also lucky enough to play 14 games in the Australian Baseball League (ABL) from 2011 to 2012, playing for the Adelaide Bite. He considers his experience there as one of the more irreplaceable moments in his life. He was also named to the ABL all-star team.
“It was really cool playing in Australia, it’s their pro league. Players are anywhere from 15 to 50-years-old. One guy on our team was 41-years-old.” said Beckman. “Most of the teams had Americans, Japanese pros, and Australians. The all-star game was a great experience: the Americans and world players against the Australians.”
Beckman, who posted a 2.37 ERA in 2013, expects to play most of the season in Altoona and he wants to be a go-to guy for the Curve. He also combined with three other pitchers for a no-hitter last season.
“I want to be in Altoona and then hopefully with the Pirates after that. I can definitely get back to where I was in 2011,” said the optimistic Beckman.