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The strange, awkward case of Dodgers reliever George Sherrill continues

July 22, 2010 |  8:08 am
The Dodgers had a left-handed reliever warming up in the ninth inning Wednesday, but it wasn’t George Sherrill. It was Hong-Chih Kuo, who’s had four elbow operations and had thrown two innings the night before.

They added another left-handed reliever to their roster Wednesday in journeyman reliever Jack Taschner.

Meanwhile, the guy who is supposed to be their star left-handed reliever, who absolutely was last season, sits in limbo. Sits wondering. Sits knowing he has cleared waivers.

Sherrill has suffered a mysterious fall, going from a guy who had a 0.65 ERA last season to one carrying a 7.48 ERA this season.

Plenty of guys clear waivers unclaimed during the course of a season. Most, though, never know about it. The list is normally a highly guarded secret. Sherrill’s name, however, somehow leaked out this month.

It’s made for an awkward situation for the Dodgers, but mostly for Sherrill.
"Unfortunately, that got out," said Manager Joe Torre. "Our conversation [with him] included a lot of things, but I think the fact that he had to sit and explain it or talk about it was more uncomfortable than the fact that it happened.

"But he’s part of this team and we never really wanted him not to be part of this team. We’re always looking to try and make him better, and that’s what we’re trying to find the answer to, and he was always a part of that conversation."

Some are confused as to why Sherrill remains with the Dodgers if he’s cleared waivers. But that only means the Dodgers can now send him to the minors without him being claimed, not that they have to. He could go the rest of the season on their 25-man roster.

Yet if he continues to pitch the way he has -- his fastball flat, struggling to not only get out right-handed hitters, but left-handed ones too -- how long can the Dodgers carry him? How far can their patience go?

Particularly now with two other left-handed relievers on the squad.

Sherrill has said he would go down to the minors if the Dodgers thought it best but otherwise loathes the idea, fearing he may not return. He could refuse and become a free agent.

Torre said he would not ask Sherrill to go to triple-A Albuquerque unless he saw the potential benefit, unless he was willing. He said they had discussed it.

"That was part of the conversation, but this is something that he needs to feel that would help or he would want to do it," Torre said. "It was never something that was demanded. It was more a conversation, how are we going to get this machine working again."

Meanwhile, Sherrill waits, searching for signs he’s about to get that feeling back. Sits in the clubhouse almost daily working crossword puzzles, Sherrill right now the Dodgers’ largest puzzle of all.

-- Steve Dilbeck