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Stults sale: Dodgers did what they could for pitcher not in their plans

March 30, 2010 |  2:26 pm

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And now a fond farewell to Eric Stults, a man who did little wrong but just not enough right.

Stults is apparently headed for Japan, which, under the circumstances, is a smart move for the Dodgers.

He wasn’t going to make the team and was out of options. If the Dodgers tried to send him down again, they risked losing him on waivers.

This is his ninth year in the Dodgers’ organization. That’s a long time, a lot of investment from both parties for this to be ending rather ingloriously.

He was an adequate pitcher who had some absolutely marvelous moments with the Dodgers -- he is their only pitcher to throw a shutout in each of the last two seasons.

But Stults was never the kind of pitcher who was going to blow people away. He was a control guy, a nibbler the Dodgers wanted to be more aggressive. He lacked the "wow" factor. And he never seemed to gain Joe Torre’s personal favor.

He’s 30 now, so it’s not like he’s this great prospect. Because he’s left-handed and had some very effective starts the last few seasons, he was thought to be a slight favorite to capture the fifth spot in the rotation.

In truth, he did not get much of a chance this spring. He started in two Cactus League games, finishing with a 5.06 ERA (four earned runs on three hits and four walks, with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings).

He was scheduled to start Tuesday, but was scratched, apparently because his sale to the Hiroshima Carp was being finalized.

Stults was caught up in one of those spring training numbers games, being one of four pitchers the Dodgers could lose if they don’t make the 25-man roster, along with Charlie Haeger, Ramon Ortiz and Carlos Monasterios.

This certainly isn’t the move of his dreams, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many players have enjoyed their experience in Japan. Some have grown from it and returned better players for it, like Ortiz.

If the Dodgers got only $400,000 for him, that’s more than if he were lost to waivers. Stults gets a new start, and hopefully, a stronger commitment.

For now, wish him thanks for his 24 starts as a Dodger (4.84 ERA) and bid him a fond sayonara.

 -- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Eric Stults. Credit: Mark Duncan / Associated Press.

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