Danny Lane Is on High Road to Recovery
Danny Lane’s first professional baseball season has had more than its share of trouble. But now, after injury and futility, he’s finally enjoying himself.
At one point during the season, Lane was one for 37 for Jamestown, a Class-A team for the Montreal Expos. Two weeks ago, it turned around.
Lane was named the New York-Penn League’s player of the week. He went 13 for 32 (.406) with four doubles, a triple and three home runs during the eight-game stretch.
“Boy, I tell you, it was nice to get a few home runs under my belt,” Lane said. “It’s been a rough year.”
Lane, a graduate of Laguna Beach High School, was a 24th-round pick from UC Santa Barbara in June. He was sent to Jamestown, where he played four games before being involved in a car accident June 19.
He and four others were on their way home just outside Jamestown when the driver of the car, Jamestown trainer Lee Slagle, attempted to pass a tractor-trailer. The car skidded off the road, then rolled.
Lane was thrown from the car and suffered a back injury. Slagle was charged with driving while intoxicated.
“I ducked down and the next thing I knew I was outside the car,” Lane said. “I guess I blacked out. I had some cuts and bruises and couldn’t move too well.”
Lane was sidelined 17 days. When he returned, the mental struggle began.
Adjusting to a higher level of baseball was tough enough. The injuries made it nearly impossible.
Lane went 0 for 25 after his return. His average plummeted to .053.
Nothing seemed to work.
“I was snake-bit,” Lane said. “Even when I hit the ball hard, it was hit at somebody. All the guys tried to keep me up. They knew the situation.”
Lane worked overtime with hitting instructor Jim Fleming. He showed up early at home games, to get in extra batting practice.
Mostly, though, he waited.
“I had a few flaws in my swing, which Jim corrected,” Lane said. “He got me to close my stance and shorten my stride. But I still wasn’t getting any hits. He told me to be patient.”
The end finally came. Ironically, it came on a day when his teammates didn’t hit.
Lane’s sixth-inning single was the only hit Jamestown had July 17 against Hamilton. It made him two for 38 on the season.
“Boy, did that take the pressure off,” Lane said.
Lane has since raised his average to .253, with four home runs and 18 runs batted in.
Armed and dangerous: There was a sense of urgency for Marty Cordova this season. He knew what he could do, but the Minnesota Twins didn’t.
It was hardly Cordova’s fault. After all, his short professional baseball career was marred by arm injuries which limited his playing time.
Cordova, who played at Orange Coast College, didn’t make it through spring training in 1990 and ’91. He missed at least a month both seasons.
Little wonder he hit only .216 for Kenosha (Wis.) in 1990 and .212 for Visalia last season.
“I felt this year was very important,” Cordova said. “If I didn’t do something, I probably should forget about playing anymore.”
Cordova can now make plans for next baseball season.
A healthy Cordova is hitting .339 this season for Visalia, a Class-A team. He leads the California League with 27 home runs and 126 RBIs.
His career, needless to say, has been salvaged.
“This is the first time I’ve had a chance to play everyday,” the left fielder said. “When you don’t play every day, every pitcher looks like he’s throwing 100 (m.p.h.). It makes it impossible to hit.”
Cordova has gotten off to a fairly good start. He was drafted in the 10th round in the 1989 June draft and spent the rest of the summer at Elizabethton, Tenn., a Rookie League team.
He hit a respectable .284 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 38 games.
Then the problems started.
In spring training the next year, Cordova was working on relay throws when his arm began to bother him.
“It didn’t really hurt, it just felt funny,” he said. “I threw one as hard as I could and then it hurt.”
Cordova missed two months. When he returned, he struck out 73 times in 269 at-bats.
Spring training in 1991 was equally disastrous.
“I don’t know how I did that one,” he said. “I just had a sore arm. I probably didn’t work out properly during the off-season. Then I tried to rush it and hurt it more.”
Cordova missed a month.
During the off-season, Cordova didn’t take any chances. He spent hours in the weight room to strengthen his arm and keep in shape.
He gained 20 pounds, beefing up to 200. It has made a difference.
“This season has been a lot more fun,” he said. “I needed it.”
Armed and dangerous II: Mike Fyhrie could do a lot of complaining. He looks at his 2.45 earned-run average, tops among Baseball City pitchers, and then at his 7-13 record and wonders what’s going on here?
But Fyhrie, a graduate of Ocean View High School, is not about to raise a stink. He may be a tough-luck pitcher, but he’s still a pitcher.
This is the first full season Fyhrie has pitched since he was a sophomore at UCLA. He missed most of his junior season after suffering an arm injury, which required the same extensive surgery that was performed on former major leaguer Tommy John.
“When it first started hurting, I just kept throwing, thinking it would go away,” Fyhrie said. “I finally saw (Angels team physician Lewis) Yocum and he said they needed to do an exploratory.
“They told me that the ligament in my elbow was actually being pulled off the bone every time I threw.”
Doctors took a ligament from his foot and placed it in his right elbow. Fyhrie came back his junior year, but pitched little.
Still, the Kansas City Royals took a chance. They drafted Fyhrie in the 12th round of the 1991 draft. He pitched at Eugene last summer, being used in relief.