|Tuesday, June 27
Dodgers waive Orel Hershiser; veteran RHP will mull options
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Orel Hershiser, whose tenacity on the mound earned him the nickname "Bulldog," today was waived by the Los Angeles Dodgers, less than 24 hours after one of the worst starts of his 18-year career.
Hershiser, 41, holds the major league record for consecutive scoreless innings at 59. He achieved the feat in a dominant 1988 campaign in which he won the Cy Young Award and was named Most Valuable Player of the World Series as the Dodgers stunned the heavily favored Oakland Athletics.
A three-time All-Star, Hershiser was tagged for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings in a 9-5 loss to the San Diego Padres on Monday. He left to a standing ovation as Dodgers fans sensed it may have been his final appearance.
"I understand and support the club's decision of giving me my release after the way I performed," Hershiser said. "I am grateful for the opportunity to play for the Dodgers this season."
There has been speculation that Hershiser would remain with the club in a coaching capacity but he declined to discuss his immediate plans.
"I need a few days to weigh these recent events and to spend time with my family and friends in order to discuss my future," Hershiser said. "I wish the entire Dodger organization the best of luck and success for the remainder of this season."
"Obviously, this is an extremely difficult decision," Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone said. "Orel is a consummate professional and a true winner who understands his commitment to his teammates. His contributions to the Dodgers and Major League Baseball will forever be remembered."
In the highly competitive National League West Division, the Dodgers could no longer afford to let Hershiser work out his mechanical flaws. With Los Angeles struggling to find consistent pitching, Hershiser was 1-5 with a 13.14 ERA in 10 appearances, including six starts.
"After spending time with the staff and Orel, we felt this would be in the best interest of the ballclub," Dodgers manager Davey Johnson said. "Orel gave this team everything he had, which will serve as an important example for the remainder of the roster."
Hershiser was so desperate to regain the form that allowed him to go 13-12 with a 4.58 ERA for the New York Mets last season that he agreed to a stint with Class A San Bernardino earlier this month.
The Dodgers are expected to recall righthander Eric Gagne from Triple-A Albuquerque to start tonight's game against the San Diego Padres. In 10 outings with Los Angeles earlier this season, including nine starts, Gagne went 1-4 with a 4.47 ERA, allowing 25 runs in 50 1/3 innings.
Hershiser was re-acquired by the Dodgers in the offseason when he was signed as a free agent and made a triumphant return to Dodger Stadium. He allowed one run and six hits over six innings in an 8-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the home opener on April 14.
Hershiser also has pitched for Cleveland and San Francisco. He has a 204-147 career record and ranked second among active pitchers in starts (460), third in wins and sixth with 2,001 strikeouts.
During his Cy Young season, Hershiser broke former Dodger Don Drysdale's 20-year-old record when he closed the season with 59 consecutive scoreless innings. He tossed a shutout in the decisive seventh game of the NL Championship Series against the Mets.
He also was 2-0 as the Dodgers defeated the A's in five games.
A three-time All-Star, Hershiser is among the Dodgers' all-time top 10 in 11 pitching categories, including ERA (3.12), starts (309), strikeouts (1,456), innings (2,180 2/3), victories (135), complete games (65) and shutouts (24).