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So it's spring; Mike MacDougal has earned a prolonged look by Dodgers

March 29, 2011 |  6:05 am

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Sometimes there is just not much more you can ask someone do to. The Dodgers could not have asked anything more of Mike MacDougal this spring, unless maybe he had a few extra million lying around to loan Frank McCourt.

The Dodgers looked like they were taking a desperate flier on a reliever past his prime when they signed the right-hander in the offseason. At the time, you could say I was less than giddy. OK, so maybe they were taking a desperate flier; it’s worked.

Whether it lasts or not, MacDougal has been just shy of sensational this spring and earned a roster spot.

Monday night in the Dodgers’ 5-4 loss to the Angels, MacDougal pitched a scoreless fifth inning. And that’s the only kind of inning he’s pitched for the Dodgers.

In 11 appearances this spring, he’s given up exactly zero runs. That makes for a perfect 0.00 ERA. In 10 innings, he’s allowed four hits.

Wildness and health have been MacDougal’s historic issues.

Only now he says he's healthy -- no hip, shoulder or sinus issues. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bullpen coach Kenny Howell have worked on compacting his windup to battle wildness. You could say it’s all worked.

He’s 34, so there are no guarantees. Yet with Vicente Padilla injured and Ronald Belisario somewhere in Venezuela, MacDougal has seized his opportunity.

A former All-Star closer with three 20-save seasons, he has walked seven this spring, but mostly he has been a pitcher in control. A pitcher who looks an awful lot like the guy who saved 20 games as recently as 2009 for the Washington Nationals.

One who will now be given a chance to approach that same performance in the regular season.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Mike MacDougal. Credit: Jake Roth / US Presswire

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