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Somewhere in the cosmos there must be a logical explanation for Joe Torre's dedication to Charlie Haeger

May 29, 2010 |  5:09 pm
What do the eyes of Joe Torre see that the rest of the world does not?

Try to get into his head and imagine what he sees when he looks at Charlie Haeger. If you squint really, really hard, can you possibly see Hoyt Wilhelm?

I see an unimpressive journeyman with a wildly inconsistent knuckleball. Nothing that would merit Torre’s prolonged dedication.

It’s a mystery right up there with the Great Pyramids and Donald Trump’s hair. Listen, his options for the fifth starter aren’t exciting, but they all look better than Haeger.

That would be Haeger, who is 0-4 with an 8.49 ERA this season. Right there, you can see why Torre would be so giddy. Not that it’s some kind of one-season illusion. In parts of five seasons in the majors with three different clubs, Haeger is 2-7 with a 6.25 ERA.

And headed right back into the rotation.

I kid you not. Torre has been hinting at this for several days, but prior to Saturday’s game he came right out and said:

``I'd like to give (John) Ely an extra day so that fifth starter will have to pitch on Tuesday, which means (Carlos) Monasterios is not an option. We're leaning toward Haeger. For this ballclub, the best thing is to keep Ely pitching the way he's pitching.’’

So it’s Ely’s fault? Because for some unexplained reason he needs an extra day of rest?

It should be clear by now that Torre has had a not-so-secret thing for Haeger all along. During spring training, he clearly wanted to give the fifth spot to Haeger.

Haeger had a fine spring, but did pitch in six games. Eric Stults, who like Haeger was out of options, barely got a whiff, appearing in two games and suffering through one bad inning before being shipped off to Japan.

Monasterios actually had the better spring, but Torre is giving him tough love, which has been his history with most rookies.

Monasterios didn’t exactly light it up in Friday’s start, but he didn’t pitch poorly either. He gave up two earned runs in his five innings and did pick up the victory.

Which is more that can be said for Haeger in his five starts this season.

Haeger is currently on the disabled list, with one of those extremely fortunate injuries that allowed the Dodgers to activate Ely, even though he had been sent down two days earlier.

The Dodgers said Haeger developed plantar fasciitis. That night brace must have worked wonders.

Haeger was shipped to Class-A San Bernardino to work with pitching coach and former knuckleballer Charlie Hough.

Hope Hough worked wonders. He must have given Torre some glowing reports, right? There has to be some explanation. Because right now, there’s nothing that can be seen by the eye that accounts for this inexplicable love affair.

__ Steve Dilbeck
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