Dodger outfielder Todd Hollandsworth’s first major league start was delayed more than two months, but it was well worth the wait.
He saved Ramon Martinez’s no-hitter Friday night against Florida at Dodger Stadium with a nice running catch of Terry Pendleton’s fly ball to deep center field in the eighth inning.
“I got a good jump on the ball,” Hollandsworth said. “I was just hoping that it wouldn’t hit the wall or go over it.”
Hollandsworth, 22, also doubled, singled twice, and drove in two runs.
Not bad for someone whose major league career previously had consisted of eight games, seven at-bats and no hits.
He had been scheduled to start in left field during the series against the Giants at San Francisco the first week of May, but broke a bone in his right hand during batting practice.
“It was cold up there and I felt the vibration after I swung the bat,” he said.
He had surgery May 9 and was sidelined until starting a rehabilitation assignment at triple-A Albuquerque on June 27.
He joined the team July 7 and went 0 for 2 in the late innings at Cincinnati the next night.
“I figured it was time to start him,” said Manager Tom Lasorda about the decision Friday to put Hollandsworth in center field, Roberto Kelly in left and Billy Ashley on the bench.
First time up, Hollandsworth responded with his first major league hit, a 140-foot slice down the left-field line for a double.
“I got my first hit out of the way and then I zeroed in on my game,” he said. “That relaxed me.”
He said he would have been able to make the running catch near the 395-foot mark in the eighth “any day of the week under normal circumstances.”
“I knew Ramon was working on a no-hitter at the time, but I didn’t realize he also had a perfect game going,” Hollandsworth said.
Tommy Gregg ruined the perfect game two batters later when he walked.
When Hollandsworth came to bat in the eighth, the new Dodger Stadium fan favorite got a loud ovation.
“It was an exciting night,” he said. “I’ll always remember it.”
So will his manager.
“In the second inning, I said to myself, ‘This guy’s going to pitch a no-hitter,’ ” Lasorda said. “I swear I did. He had such tremendous velocity.”
Velocity or no, the superstitious Lasorda said he sat in the exact same spot in the dugout the rest of the game.