Three Dodgers out of sight for playoffs
Injuries keep Schmidt, Penny, Jones virtually invisible for LA
LOS ANGELES -- In a season of highlights, three Dodgers pretty much represent the lowlights.
They would be Jason Schmidt, Brad Penny and Andruw Jones, all injured, all virtually invisible during the postseason.
The only one to appear in the Dodgers' clubhouse since the regular season ended is Schmidt, who in two seasons has one win and two shoulder operations. The most recent procedure, to remove the tip of his arthritic collarbone, provided "instant relief," according to Schmidt, who was in the clubhouse for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.
Penny's situation is stranger, which is why manager Joe Torre was asked about it Wednesday. Penny, the Opening Day starter on the strength of back-to-back 16-win seasons, went 5-2 through May 2 and had only one victory after. He spent most of the season on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis and bursitis.
With time running out on a September comeback to rebuild arm strength needed to start and pitch deep into games, the club hoped Penny instead could step into a bullpen role, especially with the uncertain status of Takashi Saito and Hong-Chih Kuo. He pitched twice in relief in September and allowed three runs in one inning. He was shut down the last week of the regular season, met with Torre and left the club to rehabilitate on his own.
"It was a two-way street," Torre said, when asked if Penny asked to leave or was asked to leave. "He was frustrated and we talked about, it may be better if he's not part of the thing [postseason]. His mood was, he was not able to contribute and we were just trying to do what we felt was best with both.
"Physically, we didn't think it was possible for him to go out and be a starter. The bullpen, it just didn't appear that, he's a starter and I don't think he felt terribly comfortable. He just didn't seem like the guy we saw in simulated stuff. He didn't look like he had the conviction."
The Dodgers hold a $9.25 million option on Penny for 2009 with a $2 million buyout. Torre said he intends to have lunch with Penny when "it quiets down."
"The young man has a bright future, whether it's with us or somebody else," Torre said. "I'm still concerned with people I like. That's why I suggested to have lunch."
Torre said the situation with Jones was similar to that of Penny.
"With all the emotions they were going through ... it's best we tend to what we're doing," he said.
Jones, who had a drop-off in production from 2006 to 2007, signed a two-year deal with the Dodgers before this season and fell off a cliff. In 2006 he hit .262 with 41 homers and 129 RBIs; last year, .222 with 26 homers and 94 RBIs; this year, .158 with three homers and 14 RBIs.
He also underwent midseason knee surgery. The reason given for his leaving the club in mid-September was knee tendinitis that needed months of rest for recovery.
Although the Dodgers owe Jones $21.1 million of his $36.2 million contract, teammates speculate that Jones' only season in Los Angeles was so sour that he'll have agent Scott Boras reach out to the Dodgers to pursue a trade, which should prove to be quite a challenge considering his salary, health and performance.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.