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Dreifort has history of elbow trouble

6/30/2001

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are holding their
breath over another injury, this one to starting pitcher Darren Dreifort.

A sprained right elbow forced Dreifort out of the Dodgers' 7-5
win over the San Diego Padres Friday night, secured when Gary
Sheffield hit the decisive homer for the second straight night.

Dreifort left after striking out Ben Davis leading off the
sixth. Trainer Stan Johnston said Dreifort will undergo an MRI exam
on Tuesday in Los Angeles and then be re-evaluated by Dr. Frank
Jobe.

Johnston said Dreifort sprained the ulnar collateral ligament,
the one that was repaired during reconstructive surgery on March
14, 1995. That surgery sidelined him the entire season.

Dreifort, who has a history of elbow and shoulder injuries, was
given a $55 million, five-year contract in the offseason. Besides
missing the 1995 season, he missed a month in 1997 with elbow
tendinitis. He had problems with his right shoulder the next two
Septembers, ending the 1998 and '99 seasons prematurely.

"It's a big win for us, but it's a loss," catcher Paul Lo Duca
said.

"God willing, I hope Darren's fine. But you lose a person like
that ... you know, he's been taking a lot of heat and everybody's
saying, `$55 million,' well, he's been pitching hurt all year and
hasn't said a word."

Lo Duca said he thought something was wrong with Dreifort in the
third or fourth inning.

"I approached him a couple times and he said he was fine," Lo
Duca said. "He showed more guts than I've ever seen out there. It
was amazing. I called a fastball and he throws it 74 mph. He didn't
want to come out of the game.

"Finally I went out there and I said, `You're done. You need to
worry about your career.' He said, `No, I'm staying out here.' And
I said, `Well, I'm not going back. I'm staying right here.' He
finally said, `OK.'

Manager Jim Tracy said he noticed Dreifort's velocity falling
off, but wasn't sure at what point Dreifort hurt himself.

"When you have a starting pitcher that apologizes to you for
having to come out of a game, is there anything more that needs to
be said about what he's all about?" Tracy said.

The Dodgers got only two starts out of Andy Ashby before he
suffered an elbow injury that will require surgery, and ace Kevin
Brown has been on the disabled list twice. Several regulars have
also been on the DL.

Padres starter Adam Eaton (8-4) took the loss five days after
throwing a three-hitter to beat Dreifort and the Dodgers 6-1 in Los
Angeles.

Sheffield's seventh-inning homer got Dreifort off the hook.
Dreifort left trailing 5-4 and appeared headed for his eighth loss
in 16 career appearances against San Diego.

Sheffield changed that when he drove a 94 mph high fastball from
Eaton over the fence in left-center field for a two-run homer and a
6-5 lead. It was Sheffield's 16th of the year.

"He might be the only person on the planet who can hit that
ball out," Eaton said.

On Thursday night, Sheffield hit the first of three solo homers
in the eighth that carried the Dodgers to a 7-4 win.

Jeff Williams (1-0) relieved Dreifort and got the win by holding
the Padres to one hit in 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Jeff Shaw pitched
the ninth for his 21st save in 24 chances.

Adrian Beltre went 4-for-4, all singles, to match his
career high for hits, and drove in a run. The Dodgers added a run
in the ninth on a wild pitch by Jose Nunez.

Dreifort allowed five runs and six hits, struck out six and
walked five in 5 1/3 innings. Eaton allowed six runs, four earned,
and 10 hits in eight innings. He struck out six and walked two.

The Dodgers gave Dreifort a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of
the third inning, but he surrendered the lead on Bubba Trammell's
two-run homer with two outs. Mike Darr was aboard on a walk for
Trammell's second homer in two nights and his 13th overall.

San Diego took a 3-0 lead in the first on Darr's RBI single and
Davis' two-run single with the bases loaded. The Dodgers pulled to
3-2 on Eric Karros' RBI double and Beltre's RBI single.

They added two unearned runs in the third thanks to third
baseman Phil Nevin's error to take a 4-3 lead.

Game notes
Padres OF Tony Gwynn ran before the game and said his
strained right hamstring felt better than it has, "but I don't
know what that means." In other words, he still doesn't know when
he'll be activated from the disabled list. Gwynn, who announced
Thursday that he'll retire at the end of the season, has been
sidelined since May 10. General manager Kevin Towers said Gwynn
could be activated this weekend. ... Padres LHP Sterling Hitchcock
was roughed up in his final rehab start Friday night for Triple-A
Portland, at Oklahoma City. He allowed 10 hits and four earned runs
in 5 2/3 innings, struck out four and walked one. He threw 102
pitches and got a no-decision in the 5-4 loss. Hitchcock, who had
ligament transplant surgery on his left elbow in June 2000, is
expected to be activated and start against Colorado next Thursday.