After an ill-fated reliever-to-starter conversion years ago, the oft-operated-upon Darren Dreifort is back in the bullpen, and feeling healthy. Dodgers manager Jim Tracy says that Dreifort is up around 97-98 MPH, and Darren himself says that his arm is fine. “I would think if it was going to bother me, it would have by now. I’ve been able to get warm and loose pretty quick. I’m not really surprised. I’ve done it before.” I’m expecting Dreifort to have a better year than the guy he’s replacing (Paul Quantrill, now with the Yankees).
Dreifort has been my favorite player since he was in college at Wichita State. In 1993, the Dodgers had the #2 overall pick in the June draft, behind Seattle. The talk at the time was that the Mariners would pick Dreifort, and L.A. would be stuck with Alex Rodriguez. When it went the other way around, I was elated — my favorite player was now on my favorite team. A gut-wrenching, Boras-laden contract negotiation followed, but Darren eventually signed with the Dodgers and went straight to the majors in 1994. Things haven’t exactly gone according to plan since then, but he’s still my favorite player.