Eric Gagne bucking some bad history in his bid to make successful return to Dodgers
And, history says, he’s bucking some tough odds to pull it off.
No Dodger that I can find has ever had an early career of significance with the team and then returned later and been even close to the same player.
Several players have come back around, but few successfully.
Two of the greatest Dodgers pitchers of all time -- Don Sutton and Orel Hershiser -- came back to make last stands. Both were released by midseason.
Some relievers have returned -- Bobby Castillo, Jesse Orosco, Rudy Seanez -- and enjoyed mixed success.
Joe Ferguson might be a lone exception as a position player. After five seasons with the Dodgers, he was traded in the middle of the 1976 season for Reggie Smith. He returned two years later and in 1979 enjoyed one of the best seasons of his 14-year career, hitting 20 home runs.
But true success stories are hard to find. Omar Daal was a so-so reliever when he came up with the Dodgers, and returned for one season in 2002 to go 11-9 as a starter.
Jeff Weaver made an unexpected addition last season in his return, going 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA.
But no one who had a great career, like Gagne, returned and even approached their former standing.
No one truly expects Gagne to be Mr. Game Over again, but in the early going he’s struggling to make a case he can be even an effective setup man. In his first two spring appearances -- said it was early -- he’s allowed three runs in two innings (13.50 ERA) and has yet to strike out a batter.
Right now he’s battling himself, and some discouraging history.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Eric Gagne. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images