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George Sherrill and the Invasion of the Body Snatchers

May 3, 2010 | 10:24 am

Sherrill_300 Patience. Patience, now.

That’s been Joe Torre’s theme for months when asked about struggling left-hander George Sherrill.

But it’s one thing when Sherrill wasn’t getting it together during spring training, and something else when he’s still all over the place in May.

That patience Torre keeps preaching is getting seriously tested.

Sherrill made the Dodgers a better team when he joined them last July 30, cementing an already strong bullpen.

He was dominant. He gave them a reliable left-handed setup man. In 30 games, he had a remarkable 0.65 ERA. He walked only 11 in 27 2/3 innings.

That pitcher has yet to be seen in 2010. It's like he’s disappeared, like this Sherrill emerged from a pod while the real one slept and then slipped into No. 52.

Seriously, do you have a better explanation? It isn’t the same guy, or at least not the same pitcher.

The troubles started in the spring. We were first warned he can get off to slow starts in the exhibition season. Only it never ebbed. He finished the spring with a 7.50 ERA.

Torre said it was mechanical, that they had identified the problem and Sherrill was working his way out of it.

Yet it’s May and he’s still a mess. His 8.00 ERA is actually worse than it was in the spring. He’s had little command. In the nine innings of his 14 games, he’s allowed 12 hits and walked 11.

Torre remains outwardly confident that Sherrill will work through this, but what else can he say?

"I have to believe that what he’s done over the years tells me more than what he’s done in the past month," Torre said.

Sounds right, but then will come another bewildering outing.

Sunday, he started the ninth with the Dodgers leading the Pirates 9-1 and he couldn’t get three outs. He had some bad luck when Delwyn Young’s little blooper fell in for a hit, but then Garrett Jones sliced a run-scoring double to deep left.

Sherrill then got the next two outs before Bobby Crosby doubled in another run. When he then walked light-hitting Jason Jaramillo, Torre went and got him even though left-handed Jeff Clement was up next.

There’s only so much of this you can watch.

Sherrill just turned 33, so it’s hardly like he’s suddenly lost it. Besides, left-handed relievers usually pitch until they’re 133.

Torre has little choice at this point but to keep sending him out there and hope he finds his way. And check for some empty pods.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: George Sherrill walks to the dugout after serving up a three-run home run to Pittsburgh Pirates' Ryan Doumit on April 5. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press.

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