As I’ve mentioned here before, I grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and have always been a die-hard Wichita State Shockers fan. My all-time favorite sports team, though, is the Dodgers. So you can imagine my excitement when my beloved Dodgers picked WSU superstar Darren Dreifort #2 overall in the 1993 draft. Of course, since then Dreifort has proven to be among the bigger busts in the game, but he’s still one of my favorite players.
When Dreifort was in college, he was a sort of super-middle-reliever. He’d go 5 innings if need be, or pitch a crucial 8th to set up for star closer Jamie Bluma. He could also hit the ball a country mile. Then-L.A. manager Tommy Lasorda made Dreifort a set-up man when Big D joined the Dodgers in 1994, and worked him to death early on. A Tommy John surgery later, Darren was a starter.
Of all the reasons Dreifort became a starting pitcher, this one never crossed my mind — the Dodger medical staff thought it was best for his health. Today, though, my dad pointed me to this two-week-old article on the Dodgers’ official website. Check out this part:
It had long been the position of the Dodger medical staff that the up-and-down demands of warming up in the bullpen was too taxing for Dreifort’s rebuilt elbow. But Dreifort blew out for a second time as a starter. Then last year as a starter he needed knee reconstruction and hip repair and Dr. Frank Jobe conceded that innings as a starter might be taking a heavier toll on Dreifort than would the up-and-down of the bullpen.
Does this mean that the esteemed Dr. Jobe was the man behind Dreifort becoming a starter? Sure sounds like it, and boy, was he wrong. As I mentioned in my Dodgers preview yesterday, Dreifort’s moving back to the bullpen, and I’m expecting good things. Laugh if you want, but Darren Dreifort could be the West Coast version of the pre-Wagner-to-Philly Octavio Dotel.