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Eric Gagne bucking some bad history in his bid to make successful return to Dodgers

Eric Eric Gagne has had a rough couple of early outings this spring in his bid to make a successful comeback with the 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.

Chan Ho Park averaged 15 victories a season the last five years he was here before signing with Texas. He returned to go 4-4 with a 3.40 ERA as a reliever seven years later with the ’08 team.

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

Comments () | Archives (18)

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McCheap will make sure he makes the team, barring injury of course.
imagining the turnstile turning, I can see a whole weeks worth of TV promotion built around Eric for the first home-stand.

What about Nomo? He kinda flamed out his last year in LA, but his first two years back were quite good.

Hideo Nomo had a pretty successful 2nd stop. His first campaign goes without saying, and from 2002-2003 he started opening day twice, won a combined 32 games with nearly 450 innings, 370 strikeouts, and a 3.24 ERA

Why is Eric "Mr. Mitchell Report, HGH & Steroid cheat, washed-up with no juice pitcher" Gagne on the Dodgers at all? Absolute disgrace that he was signed!!


Nomo does look like a great pitching exception. After winning more than 13 games in each of his first three seasons with the Dodgers, when he returned five years later and won 16 games the next two seasons. Still, a major exception.

Remember when Gagne was on Jim Rome's "piece of crap" list, then he roided-up and became "Game Over"... Without his roids he's back on the list... He's finished!

When I saw the headline, the first thing I thought is that it was about the Mitchell Report. But no, as usual, we must dance around the issue.

It is a grim pre-season when TWO of our players are being discussed with a large elephant in the room.

Technically, wasn't Sutton DL'd for the remainder of the '88 season rather than released? Also a failed return I think that ended early was a return for Messersmith, and Garvey had shoulder issues before even reporting to spring training for LA after his last Sand Diego season

Doesn't cost much to see whether Gagne has anything left. If he does, let's see it in action, I say. Another thing, stay off my lawn!

I think that Gagne's signing was sort of a PR move by the club. That being said, I think he's done...he's not gonna make the club. Who is he going to beat out for the middle relief spot? I'd much rather have Weaver for that role. Also, if I remember correctly, it was reported that he was going to contend for the seventh or eighth inning job. Hello? I think the Dodgers are pretty well set there with Kuo, Troncoso and Sherrill.

not to mention none of the other former "tried to make comebacks" had confessed to being juiced...

What's there to say?

How soon they about Maury Wills. When he returned in 69 after two years away he hit .297 .270 and .281 with 25, 28, 15 stolen bases. His career average was .281 so those weren't shabby years. What was more he made those Dodgers exciting again. I was at the park shortly after him and Mota came over from Montreal and Maury got on first, the crowd started the Go, Maury, Go chant that had been absent for two years and guess what, he stole second. You'd of thought we just won the World Series.

Anybody remember a guy named Maury Wills?

Cannot forget Maury, the most exciting player in Dodgers history. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, for revolutionizing the game in his era and for being the catalyst on three World Championship teams and four pennant winners along with an MVP and Gold Gloves.

I personally Gagne makes the team, with some zip on his fastball of course. I don't like it either that he did steroids, but he did. If he's clean now then who cares, we need a relief pitcher now not a baseball history lesson.
One thing no one seems to remember is that his arm would most likely have never been hurt if one of the numerous knuckleheaded Dodger managers between Lasorda and Torre hadn't made Gagne pitch with a sore arm. That is what really derailed his career.

***BrianODonnell: "One thing no one seems to remember is that his arm would most likely have never been hurt if one of the numerous knuckleheaded Dodger managers between Lasorda and Torre hadn't made Gagne pitch with a sore arm. That is what really derailed his career. "***

Dude, for "Gagne," without roids there would have been no career, period! Simple as that!


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