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LetÕs Hope Those Ballet Lessons Are Worth It
2003-02-04 08:54
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Or,


Éand Shawn Green as Timmy Lupus?


Darren Dreifort may not have much in common with Shaquille OÕNeal, much less Tatum OÕNeal, but there is this:

Shaquille OÕNeal, who has a lucrative contract for many dollars to play the Lakers, has been plagued by injuries (to his toe).

Tatum OÕNeal, who had a lucrative contract for many ballet lessons to play for the Bad News Bears, was plagued by injuries (to her elbow).

Darren Dreifort may not now, yet or ever be has valuable to the Dodgers as those two were to their teams, but he is their third-highest paid player. And to be sure, he has been plagued by injuries Š he hasnÕt pitched in a game since June 29, 2001.

Based on how much has been written about him this offseason, no one seems to care about DreifortÕs fate. But he is arguably the DodgersÕ biggest story entering 2003.

Sidebar - Top 5 questions facing the 2003 Dodgers:
5) Will they get any production from their bench, particularly if a starter gets hurt?
4) Can Eric Gagne be more than a one-year wonder?
3) Will Adrian Beltre finally become a star?
2) Does Kevin Brown have anything left?
1) Whither Darren Dreifort?

Monday, reliever Giovanni Carrara signed his contract for 2003. In todayÕs Los Angeles Times:

He has been used primarily as a set-up man and middle reliever, but General Manager Dan Evans said Carrara could move to the rotation if Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort don't return from injuries.

Dreifort was actually expected to pitch late last year in his first attempt to come back from arm surgery, but injured his knee. The idea that he might still not be ready to pitch, that Dan Evans is talking about Carrara, in addition to injury-riddled non-roster signee Wilson Alvarez, as potential starting pitchers is a very underplayed story this offseason.

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in a week, with several weeks to go before the regular season starts, and so there will be plenty of time to talk about it then. But in a city where Shaquille OÕNealÕs toe was written about virtually every week of the NBA offseason, the Dreifort and Brown situation merits concern now.

Though Brown is owed $45 million through 2005 and Dreifort is owed $35 million, I think DreifortÕs the bigger story because he is only 30 years old right now, whereas Brown is 37. Even though Brown has had by far the better career, Dreifort has the greater potential for recovery. He is the biggest X-factor on a team that barely missed the playoffs the past two seasons, and no oneÕs talking about it.

Darren Dreifort in the role of Tatum OÕNeal? The Dodgers in the role of The Bad News Bears? Fox in the role of ChicoÕs Bail Bonds?

ItÕs worth watching.

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