SI Vault
 
Baseball
Jeff Pearlman
April 26, 1999
Throwing Pains The Dodgers are still counting on Todd Hundley's surgically repaired arm
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 26, 1999

Baseball

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

CLUB, LEADER

TOTAL MEMBERS

NEXT TO JOIN?

T1. Outfield Assists
Tris Speaker, 450

1

Tony Gwynn, 154

T1. Sacrifices
Eddie Collins, 511

1

Ozzie Guillen, 192

T3. Wins
Cy Young, 511

2

Roger Clemens, 234

T3. Saves
Lee Smith, 478

2

Randy Myers, 347

5. Home Runs Allowed
Robin Roberts, 505

8

Mark Langston, 302

6. Complete Games
Cy Young, 749

15

Clemens, 114

7. Home Runs
Hank Aaron, 755

28

Cal Ripken Jr., 384

8. Stolen Bases
Rickey Henderson, 1,299

59

Delino DeShields, 384

9. Games Started
Cy Young, 815

98

Mike Morgan, 383

10. Doubles
Tris Speaker, 792

102

Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, 398

Throwing Pains
The Dodgers are still counting on Todd Hundley's surgically repaired arm

Ever since they traded for Todd Hundley last December, the Dodgers have insisted that the former All-Star catcher is fine. Sure, Hundley, who'd hit 41 home runs and driven in 112 runs for the Mets in 1996, was recovering from September '97 surgery on his right elbow. Sure, he caught just two games last season. But the Dodgers kept saying Hundley would be O.K.

Well, he's not O.K., and anyone who has watched him try to throw out base runners or swing the bat knows it. Hundley might have his strength back, but his confidence is another matter. "It's like Todd's been frozen for a year and a half," says Dodgers third base coach Rick Dempsey, a former big league catcher. "He's thawing out, but it takes time."

In a game last week against the Diamondbacks, Dempsey clocked Hundley's throw from home to second in 1.94 seconds, plenty fast for a big league backstop. The problem is not speed, but mechanics. Where once Hundley's throwing sequence was fluid, now it's jerky. That, says Hundley, is why he failed to nail the first 12 runners who tried to steal against him. (He threw out his first two runners of '99 on Sunday.)

"I need to stop worrying and just play?' says Hundley, who has struggled at the plate as well, hitting just .189 with one home run at week's end. "I have to be patient, but it's not always that easy"

That the Dodgers' pitchers know. One of baseball's best staffs got even better last December with the addition of Kevin Brown. But since the start of last season that staff has worked with a conga line of catchers. First Mike Piazza was dealt last May in a blockbuster trade with the Marlins. Among the five players arriving from Florida was Charles Johnson, one of the game's best defensive catchers. Johnson departed in the three-team trade with the Orioles and Mets that brought Hundley from New York.

When Hundley was unable to catch for most of spring training, the Dodgers maintained their no-panic stance. "I'm going slow on him," says manager Davey Johnson. "Just making sure he's fine." Rookie Paul LoDuca started four of L.A.'s first 12 games, throwing out two of three base runners but going 0 for 11 at the plate.

"Everyone here knows what Todd's fighting," Dempsey says. "He's a very good defensive catcher, but there's a lot of rust."

Piniella on Pitching
Does He Know His Stuff?

Lou Piniella sat in the visiting manager's office at Anaheim's Edison Field last Saturday, a smoldering Marlboro Light in one hand, a ham sandwich in the other. There were bags under his eyes, and his words were interrupted by a hacking cough. "Look what losing does to me," he said, only half joking. Then, getting serious, he added, "It's been tough, these past few days."

Continue Story
1 2 3