Dave Landaker's victory came last week, when he performed the simple task of fielding a ground ball and throwing it to first base.
The routine play during a rookie league game last week was momentous for Landaker. The Royal High graduate had played fewer than 10 minor league games in the field since the Houston Astros made him a second-round pick in 1992. Years of sidearm throws from shortstop had turned his right shoulder into mush.
Landaker's 1994 season began in mid-June with Kissimmee, Fla., in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but he was restricted to being the designated hitter until his arm healed. Landaker's big day came last week, when Kissimmee's second baseman was injured.
"When he got hurt, the (coaches) said, 'It's a short throw. Do you think you can fill in for him?' " Landaker said. "I was expecting to be nervous on how my arm would feel, but from second base it is more or less a lob throw. The arm felt fine. It really didn't feel like I'd missed any time."
But he had.
Landaker signed for $185,550 after the Astros made him the 39th pick in the 1992 draft, but he played only instructional league ball in the fall that season. Last year, he played in only 10 games, also because of his sore right shoulder.
Landaker blamed the shoulder problem on too many sidearm throws.
"I feel like if I would have worked on getting more over the top it would have helped a little more." he said, "But dropping from the side all the time really takes a toll. . . . Every time I would drop down, I would feel numbness in my fingers and a sharp pain."
The Astros put Landaker on what he called "a pitcher's program," to rest his arm. But the pain persisted until recently, when he was finally able to take the field.
Hitting has not been a problem. Landaker is batting .340.
Add Landaker: One of Landaker's roommates in Kissimmee is Jeff Hook, who pitched at Newbury Park and Ventura College.
"We used to play against each other (in high school)," Landaker said, "It's weird looking out and seeing someone who is from so close to where I'm from. He is 15 minutes away from me back in California."
Still going: Burlington (N.C.) outfielder Bryan Warner has picked up in professional baseball where he left off this spring at Glendale College.
Warner, a 14th-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in June, is hitting .306 with six home runs and 28 runs batted in at rookie-level Burlington. He batted .352 with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs for the Vaqueros.
"At every level coming up, I'd always done really well," Warner said, "so I guess I didn't expect to do any different, but there's always that in the back of your mind that this is pro baseball."
Change of scenery: Javier Delahoya had a good season for the Dodgers' double-A team in San Antonio last year, which made his dreadful season with the Florida Marlins' double-A team in Portland, Me., somewhat surprising.
Delahoya, placed on waivers by the Dodgers after going 8-10 with a 3.66 earned-run average at San Antonio, has an explanation:
"I had problems with the (Portland) pitching coach and manager," said Delahoya, a North Hollywood High graduate. "We didn't really get along. . . . They tried to change my mechanics. They tried to change the way I was pitching."
Delahoya was 0-7 with a 6.48 ERA at Portland before he was sent down to Class-A Brevard County, Fla. Getting away from Portland--or pitching against lesser competition--seems to have helped Delahoya. He is 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA at Brevard County.
Short hops: Huntsville, Ala., designated hitter Joel Wolfe (Chatsworth) hit the ball that caused Michael Jordan to injure his shoulder while trying for a diving catch in left field. Wolfe wound up with a triple. . . .
Pitcher Dan Chergey (Thousand Oaks) was finally sent down to Class-A Brevard County, Fla., last Tuesday. Chergey was promoted to triple-A Edmonton in June as a reward for his success at Brevard County and to fill a spot on an injury-depleted staff. Chergey was 2-1 with a 5.95 ERA in 19 2/3 innings at Edmonton. . . .
On the same day Chergey returned to Brevard County, his teammate, catcher Mike Sims (Cal State Northridge), suffered a broken jaw in a home-plate collision. Sims, whose jaw was wired shut during surgery, will miss the rest of the season. Sims batted .248 with no home runs and 29 RBIs. . . .
Joe Rosselli (Alemany) and Roger Salkeld (Saugus) faced each other in a triple-A game Thursday night in Calgary. Salkeld was the winning pitcher in the 4-3 game. Although the pitchers came to triple A from opposite directions--Salkeld down from the majors and Rosselli up from double A--they have been equally disappointing. Salkeld is 3-5 with a 6.06 ERA and Rosselli is 1-7 with a 4.50 ERA.