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Sign On, Harvest Moon
2005-02-23 12:00
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Great story here. Call me ignorant - or precociously progressive - but I didn't know Dodger prospect Ryan Ketchner was deaf. Ken Gurnick has the feature on MLB.com:

Jim Colborn, the Dodgers' multilingual pitching coach, was addressing his flock the other day when he caught the eye of Ryan Ketchner across the clubhouse.

Colborn and Ketchner had yet to meet, but the coach knew what he needed to know. He stopped talking, but suddenly spoke unexpected volumes. Using sign language he learned while growing up with a deaf best friend, Colborn spelled out: "Hi Ryan. My name is Jim, the ace pitching coach."

"That was awesome," said Ketchner, who was born virtually deaf. "It will be cool when I get to the Major Leagues. He doesn't have to come to the mound. He can communicate to me from the dugout with signs."

Is Colborn sort of like baseball's MacGyver? He just seems to pull these tricks - language tricks, anyway - out of nowhere. And you have to love how Colborn calls himself "ace pitching coach" - in sign language, no less. It's all about the details.

Dodger general manager Paul DePodesta acquired Ketchner, a 22-year-old lefty, at the end of Spring Training last year in exchange for Jolbert Cabrera. Ketchner averaged more than a strikeout per inning in the minors from 2000-2003, with excellent control. Once he recovers from elbow surgery, Ketchner will be trying to become the majors' first deaf pitcher in nearly a century, Gurnick writes.

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