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On the bright side, Charlie Haeger was impressive in his first start

April 12, 2010 |  7:26 am
You uncover your eyes now.

Really, it wasn’t that bad. Just because the Dodgers opened the season 2-4, blowing leads like dandelions, coming home tied for last and the staff sporting a 5.23 earned-run average.

There was something good that came out of Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Marlins:

Charlie Haeger.

Take away the first three Florida hitters in the fourth inning, and it would be difficult to ask for more from him.

Haeger had his knuckleball darting all over the place, which is mostly good. He struck out 12 in six innings, walked four and allowed three hits.

Whether it was the breeze or the humidity, his knuckleball had plenty of movement. It danced so much that twice he struck out batters on wild pitches that got away from catcher A.J. Ellis and allowed the hitter to reach first.

He threw too many pitches (117, 67 for strikes) but knuckleballers are renowned for their rubber arms -- it’s not like they’re throwing 100 mph -- and hopefully Manager Joe Torre will allow him to go deeper into the game in his next start.

Torre saw something in Haeger this spring, because he really didn’t do anything to particularly distinguish himself and win the fifth starting spot. He had a nice ERA of 2.20, but not as good as Ramon Ortiz (0.96). Mostly, his major competition (James McDonald, Eric Stults, Josh Towers and Josh Lindblom) pitched themselves out of contention.

But if Haeger can continue to pitch like he did Sunday, concerns over the fifth spot will quickly evaporate. His performance was somewhat overlooked by the way the Dodgers gave away another game.

His only trouble Sunday was in the fourth, when his control briefly deserted him after he sat for a lengthy time when the Dodgers scored four times in the top of the inning.

He walked his first two batters and then gave up a crushing home run to Jorge Cantu.

Otherwise, it was an encouraging first start for Haeger. And after that trip, the Dodgers were looking for encouraging signs.

-- Steve Dilbeck