Kevin Modesti: Beimel ready to answer the call

first_imgV ERO BEACH, Fla. – Joe Beimel rolled up the right sleeve of his Dodger-blue practice jersey one recent morning and displayed the mark of a new man. In the old days, you know, a guy would clean up his image by removing a tattoo. Now, evidently, he announces he’s changed his hard-living ways by getting one. Since late on the night of Oct. 2 in New York, Beimel said, he has not had a drink of alcohol. Beimel’s trouble began two nights before the Dodgers’ playoff opener when the Pennsylvania native asked a cabbie to find him a good place to watch the Eagles-Packers game. As he tells the story, he doesn’t even know the name of the bar where he wound up sitting until well after the game was over. “I got up to go to the bathroom, took the last drink out of my beer,” Beimel said. “It kind of slipped through my hand, and I kind of fumbled it around, tried to catch it. There was a post right by the bar. The glass and my hand hit that at the same time. It kind of exploded everywhere. “I was kind of in shock – holy cow, did that really happen? It was kind of dark, and I saw a little cut. I didn’t think much of it. I went to the bathroom. By the time I got there my whole hand was just dripping. “I tried to take some paper towels and get it to stop \. I couldn’t get it to stop. I ran out, jumped in a cab, went to the hotel.” How many beers had he drank? “Too many,” Beimel said. “It was probably 2:30 in the morning. I wasn’t sitting there drinking sodas all night.” A Dodgers trainer put in stitches at the hotel. But they tore loose when he tried to throw at the next day’s workout, and he was sent home to Los Angeles in shame, leaving manager Grady Little’s bullpen short-handed. A one-inch scar remains at the base of Beimel’s little finger. In some minds he gets a permanent spot in the Dodgers bullpen Hall of Infamy. Ralph Branca, Terry Forster, Tom Niedenfuer – and Joe Beimel, who got there without throwing a pitch. But his rift with the team began to heal when he apologized in a clubhouse meeting between games 2 and 3 and persuaded general manager Ned Colletti he realized the gravity of his mistake. Maybe it helped that the Dodgers were so comprehensively beaten by the Mets, no one player could be blamed. “If you only give people one chance, you’re going to run out of people,” Colletti said in Vero Beach. “He’s got a chance to accomplish a lot – and not only on the mound. I’m happy for him.” The Dodgers used the incident against him in a salary arbitration hearing, won the case and will pay Beimel $912,500 this season – not the $1.25 million he asked for, but a 115 percent raise over what he earned last year with a 2-1 record and 2.96 ERA in 62 appearances. Still, Beimel said, he feels forgiven and thankful: “They realized I made a mistake. I realized I made a mistake. I’m grateful to be back.” [email protected] (818) 713-3616 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Nobody could have imagined how things would turn out between Beimel and the Dodgers after the journeyman relief pitcher admitted he sliced open his prized left hand on a shattered beer glass at a Manhattan bar last October, missed the playoff series with the New York Mets and became a convenient scapegoat for a defeat that in truth was a team effort. After the Shatter Heard ‘Round the World, Dodgers executives and teammates were angry – mostly because Beimel lied at first and claimed the accident happened in his hotel room. It was natural to assume this meant Goodbyemel: The 29-year-old would be asked to pack his bags and never see Dodger Blue again. Instead, as the Dodgers pass spring training’s halfway point, Beimel remains a member of the bullpen. The big pitcher with hair over his collar and a distinctive No. 97 on his back is perhaps a more trusted member of the club than ever before. “As bad as it was when it happened, I’ve tried to turn it into a positive, made some pretty big life changes,” Beimel said. “It \ is just something to remind me what a life-changing experience this really was.” center_img On Beimel’s shoulder are the images of a heart broken in two and a New York City skyline wrapped in the words “Only God Knows Why.” “It’s \ one of my favorite songs, a Kid Rock song,” Beimel said of the indelible phrase. “It’s also, `Only God knows why things happen the way they do.”‘ last_img