Charlotte Knights pitcher Chris Beck remembers the last time he went up against the Durham Bulls during the 2015 International League season.
He wound up sitting out the final three months of the season, and underwent surgery on his right elbow.
Fully healed now, Beck will make his second start of the season when the Knights host the Bulls on Friday night at BB&T BallPark. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
“I was never worried,” Beck said. “Everything’s been great so far.”
Yet Beck – in his third season with Charlotte – doesn’t want to forget June 3, 2015.
The Commerce, Ga., native had just returned to the Knights after making his major league debut with the Chicago White Sox seven days earlier.
Against the Bulls, Beck was two outs into the fourth inning when he felt something go very wrong in his right elbow.
“It kinda freaked out on me,” Beck said. “It felt like a big muscle cramp. I threw one more pitch and finished the inning, but I knew something wasn’t right.”
Beck would make one more appearance that season, but as the pain and numbness in his hand and arm persisted, the White Sox shut him down for the season.
“But the tingling in my hand never went away, so we decided to cut it open and move (the nerve),” Beck said.
Six weeks later, Beck was back pitching, but with a different approach on how he threw the ball.
“I got with a physical therapist … and we came up with a program to take as much stress off my elbow as possible,” Beck said. “Still, I wanted to be strong enough to handle the stress of throwing.”
The offseason work has been noticed by Beck’s coaches.
“He’s got more direction now,” Knights pitching coach Richard Dotson said. “He’s using his back leg more where he’s driving towards the plate.”
Beck is now trying to get back on the White Sox’s radar. In his first start this season – also against the Bulls, on April 9 – he struck out seven in five innings, but got a no-decision in a 3-2 Charlotte loss.
“I’m here to do my job from game to game, and show the White Sox I’m ready to come up and contribute at the major league level,” Beck said.
Knights drop home opener
Three Durham pitchers combined for a four-hit shutout as the Knights lost 2-0 to the Bulls on Thursday night in their 2016 home opener at BB&T BallPark.
Starter Erik Johnson took the loss for Charlotte (2-5), giving up a home run to Durham shortstop Taylor Motter in the top of the fourth inning.
Johnson (0-1) went 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out seven.
The Bulls added an insurance run in the top of the seventh on Luke Maile’s RBI single off Knights reliever Will Lamb.
Hector Sanchez had two of Charlotte’s four hits. Carlos Sanchez and Daniel Fields also had hits for the Knights.