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Bound for San Bernadino

Veteran pitcher Hershiser sent to minor leagues

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Posted: Friday May 26, 2000 10:44 PM

  Orel Hershiser Action needed: Orel Hershiser is headed down to the minors for the first time since 1991 after not seeing much action in May. Matthew Stockman/Allsport

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Typical of Orel Hershiser: feeling he wasn't helping the Dodgers, he volunteered to go to the minors.

"If I'm not able to play or contribute at a high level right now, then I need to get myself in a position to be able to do that. I thought the best way to do that would be to go get some innings in the minors," Hershiser said Friday after Los Angeles sent him to Class-A San Bernardino.

"They didn't ask; I suggested it."

Hershiser, 41, has not pitched in a game since May 9, and struggled with control problems before that -- he tied a modern major league record by hitting four batters -- in just 1 1-3 innings -- on April 19.

One of the most successful pitchers in Dodgers' history, Hershiser said he would never have suggested to Dodgers manager Davey Johnson to put him in a game, or to ask him when he was going to pitch again.

"I don't think it pays to be a squeaky wheel. I don't think it pays to look just at yourself. I think it just pays to fulfill your contract and do the best you can," Hershiser said.

"I don't think your ego or your resume or whatever you want to label it should get in the way of what's right."

Nicknamed "Bulldog" by former Los Angeles manager Tom Lasorda, Hershiser was the 1988 Cy Young winner and World Series MVP after pitching a major league record 59 consecutive scoreless innings that season, is 1-2 with a 10.70 ERA in seven appearances this year.

Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, the 18-year major league veteran could have refused to be sent to the minors.

But, since reliever Mike Fetters was coming off the 15-day disabled list Friday and needed a spot on the Dodgers' roster, Hershiser stepped forward.

"I went to them [Dodgers management] originally about 10 days to two weeks ago, then I re-suggested it about four days ago," Hershiser said. "With all the things that were going on -- Fetters getting healthy and different things going on with the pitching staff -- it became more and more evident that I really needed to get serious about doing it."

Hershiser will make his first start for San Bernadino on Tuesday against Lancaster. It will mark his first appearance in the minors since 1991, when he made four starts for three Dodgers' farms team in his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery.

The 55-mile trip to San Bernardino will mark Hershiser's first appearance in the minors since 1991, when he made four starts for three Dodgers' farms team in his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery.

Other than that, he hasn't pitched in the minors in 18 years, since he first came up to the Dodgers. Hershiser has a career record of 204-147, including a career-high 23 wins in 1988.

"Orel has always been a winner and a part of championship-caliber teams," Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone said. "His decision to go to the minors shows his commitment to winning and to his teammates.

"We are confident that he will get the proper work and innings in, so we can get him back up here, where he best belongs to contribute to this ballclub."

Fetters, who had been out with a sore right elbow, is 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA.

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