One start into the 1986 season and 456 starts into his career, Dodger pitcher Jerry Reuss learned that it will be awhile--if then--before he has another, at least for the Dodgers.
Reuss, a 14-game winner in 1985 who is just eight wins shy of 200 for his career, has been taken out of the starting rotation by Manager Tom Lasorda and sent to the bullpen. Dennis Powell, a 22-year-old left-hander who came up with a big league curveball during the spring, will take Reuss' spot and face the San Diego Padres Wednesday night.
After Steve Garvey's home run in the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 4-3 loss to the Padres Monday, Reuss began warming up in the Dodger bullpen for the first time but did not pitch.
"The world is a tuxedo, and I feel like a pair of brown shoes," Reuss said. "I'm not happy , but what can I do about it."
Lasorda broke the news to Reuss after the Dodgers' 3-2 win over the Giants Sunday in Dodger Stadium.
"I told him yesterday exactly what I felt," Lasorda said. "The man has given a great deal to this ballclub. We appreciate what he has done, but I felt we should put him in the bullpen.
"I want Jerry to throw more and get himself in condition. He hasn't been throwing the ball well enough for me."
Reuss, who will be 37 on June 19, lasted just 3 innings in the Dodgers' 9-8 loss to the Giants last Friday. He gave up six hits, walked three, threw a wild pitch and gave up five runs, although just two were earned after Ken Landreaux dropped a fly ball with the bases loaded.
Lasorda would not criticize Reuss publicly--he does not criticize any of his players publicly--but it was obvious that he was unhappy with the way Reuss was throwing.
Reuss started off the spring with sore knees, then was further set back by a case of the flu. Last week, after being shelled by the Angels in the last game of the Freeway Series, Reuss had his elbow X-rayed by Dr. Frank Jobe. Reuss said that X-rays showed a little irritation, "(but) nothing out of the ordinary, something you could have."
This will not be Reuss' first trip to the Dodger bullpen. In 1984, after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his elbow, Reuss wound up in the Dodger bullpen. He won just five games and pitched only 99 innings.
Last season, however, Reuss enjoyed a strong recovery, going 14-10 with a 2.92 ERA.
Reuss' earned-run average for the last six seasons combined is 2.87, the best in the majors.
But now he's back in the bullpen, fueling speculation that the Dodgers might be willing to make a trade. Reuss is in the last two years of a four-year, $4.4-million contract and, at the moment, Dodger Vice President Al Campanis said, no club has expressed interest.
"But some clubs will need pitching," Campanis said.