Tudor Lasts for 10 Pitches; Dodgers Lose
For the last four days, using grimaces and gestures because he could not bear to use the words, John Tudor had been trying to tell the Dodgers something.
Friday afternoon, in 10 pitches that wore on him like 10 years, he finally made his message clear: Tudor, 35, is physically unable to pitch.
The Dodger left-hander is not ready to return from extensive winter shoulder and elbow surgery that has left his shoulder in unplayable condition.
In the Dodgers’ 6-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs Friday before a crowd of 35,434 at Wrigley Field, Tudor lasted through only seven Cub batters. With every delivery, he would later say, there was pain. He wasn’t throwing fastballs or curveballs, but softballs.
After Tudor made it through the first inning on five pitches, Lloyd McClendon hit his second pitch of the second inning over the left-field wall for a home run. Two pitches later, Damon Berryhill singled up the middle. Then Vance Law doubled, and Tudor was finished.
Dodger pitching coach Ron Perranoski went to the mound. Tudor stared at the sky. Reliever Tim Belcher had already warmed up in the bullpen.
Perranoski grabbed the ball, patted Tudor’s back, and the pitcher walked off, accompanied by one last shot--a couple of hundred fans chanting, “Leave him in, leave him in.”
“I’m not going back out there again with my shoulder like this, I know that,” Tudor said. “I can’t throw the ball. I can’t throw the ball.
“I don’t know what the Dodgers are thinking, but they are thinking of putting me back out there--that’s ridiculous. I’ve had shoulder problems all my career, but this is a lot worse, a lot different. Here, I’m messing with people’s lives.”
Tudor’s early exit threw the bullpen into more chaos and helped the Dodgers incur their fifth straight loss, a season low, and 10th defeat in their last 12 games. The Cubs had taken a 3-1 lead against Tudor, but the Dodgers tied the score on Chris Gwynn’s two-run pinch single in the fourth.
However, the Cubs won it with three runs in the final five innings off weary relievers John Wetteland (Jerome Walton’s RBI fly and single) and Ricky Horton (Berryhill’s RBI single).
“We’re all concerned,” said Fred Claire, Dodger vice president. “This is a team and a town that we swept through last year. But that was last year. We have to face reality.”
Claire was equally concerned about Tudor: “He’s obviously troubled and has not been able to do the job,” he said. “We need to do something.”
Look for them to place him on the 21-day disabled list, along with Alejandro Pena, who suffered a strained groin muscle in the bullpen Friday. This probably will mean the post-All-Star-break return of left-handed reliever Ray Searage from his minor league rehabilitation assignment at triple-A Albuquerque, and right-handed starter Ramon Martinez from the Albuquerque roster.
What were the Dodgers thinking in sending Tudor to the mound? It wasn’t as though his sore shoulder was a surprise.
“Even before I went out there, they knew what it was going to be like, and I knew what it was going to be like,” Tudor said later. “They didn’t put a gun to my head, it was my decision to pitch. But (Manager) Tom Lasorda knew just what I had--nothing. We all knew what would happen.”
And with good reason. This was his third start since beginning his comeback June 27, but he lasted only 4 1/3 innings in his first start, and three innings in his second. And since that start, last Sunday against Pittsburgh, he has complained daily of shoulder tenderness.
“I told them after that last game there were no guarantees the shoulder wouldn’t give me problems again,” Tudor said.
“They told me to go out there and try it, that I would never know unless I tried it. And I’ve never not taken the ball when asked.”
Said Claire of what happened after last Sunday’s game, in which Tudor threw three shutout innings against the Pirates before exiting: “We met with Dr. (Frank) Jobe, and he said the shoulder wasn’t anything serious. We asked John if he felt he could make another start, and he said yes. We didn’t force anything.”
Thursday night in St. Louis, when it became obvious Tudor was going to remain as Friday’s starter, he was asked about his doubts.
“Ask the bullpen if they have any reservations,” he said. “I’m told to pitch, I pitch. The know how it feels. It felt the same way today as it did yesterday as it did the day before.”
Friday, the Dodgers ordered Belcher to prepare as if he would be the starter. And in the bullpen, it took Tudor an incredible 149 pitches to warm up.
“That’s a record,” said bullpen coach Mark Cresse, whose pitchers normally require 70 to 90 pitches. “And no, John didn’t have very good stuff. But that’s the problem. He doesn’t have a whole lot of stuff even when he has a whole lot of stuff. He gets people out in other ways. So, it’s hard for us to tell when he’s not right.”
In the end, Dodger management left the decision up to Tudor.
“It was completely up to John--we would never ask anyone to go out and do something that he wouldn’t be comfortable in doing,” Claire said. “We told him we didn’t care when he came back, as long as he was healthy.”
Added Tudor: “No, they didn’t force anything. But I’m always going to want to pitch.”
Mike Davis’ arthroscopic exam revealed loose cartilage in both knees. The cartilage was removed by Dr. Frank Jobe and Davis, who went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, is expected to be sidelined for a month. . . . Jose Gonzalez, who entered Friday in an 0-for-14 slump, moved back into good graces against the Cubs with a single, a double and his second great assist this week from center field, throwing out Lloyd McClendon attempting to score from third base on a fly ball in the seventh. Gonzalez is hitting .317. . . . Tim Leary offered no excuses for his season-worst start, Thursday in a 14-2 loss to St. Louis. He gave up five runs in four innings. Friday morning he rushed to Los Angeles to be with his wife, Catherine, who had gone into labor with their second child. . . . Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda jogged and walked 6 1/2 miles from the team’s downtown hotel to Wrigley Field for Friday’s game. It took him one hour 15 minutes.