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About Schmidt ...

July 20, 2009 |  7:04 pm


The Dodgers paid $47 million for six starts in 2 1/2 seasons. Tonight they’ll move closer to discovering whether or not that investment can be salvaged.

Pitcher Jason Schmidt (pictured above) makes his first start since June 2007, having spent all that time recovering from surgery that fixed a torn labrum, a damaged upper arm tendon and internal scarring.

Schmidt pitched in the minors during this season and last, compiling a 3.65 earned-run average this year at Class A Inland Empire and triple-A Albuquerque. He has a 3-1 record in eight games, seven of those he started.

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre and General Manager Ned Colletti decided to bring Schmidt up at this time to see what they had.

“Both of us thought about it, and we thought let’s find something out. That’s where we are,” Torre said.

Torre acknowledged Schmidt’s pitches may have moved into the slow lane, compared with the mid-90s, left-lane fastballs he once dealt. But the fastball, Torre said, has benefits regardless of its speed -- if a pitcher can place it.

“Even though you only throw 88 [mph] you still have to use it,” Torre said. “It’s still the best pitch because if you can locate the fastball, to me, that opens up a lot of areas for you.”

Torre had no idea what would happen. He said he relied on those watching Schmidt pitch regularly to form his opinions. But he knows Schmidt, 36, has the wherewithall to still pitch in the majors.

“He’s had enough time to practice,” Torre said. “He understands how to pitch up here, he’s pitched up here successfully. He knows nobody gets a free pass. He knows what he needs to do, now go on out there and see how successful he can be.”

Schimdt was 1-4 with a 6.31 ERA with the Dodgers before the surgery. He led the National League in ERA in 2003 at 2.34, when he went 17-5 for the Giants.

Check back for live inning-by-inning updates to see if he still has velocity, if he can still get batters out or if the wheels fall off after two-thirds of an inning.

-- Bill Brink

Photo credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times