It was only a few years ago that Kirk Dressendorfer was going to be a star. Dressendorfer, a three-time All-American pitcher at Texas, required only four minor league starts before he was promoted to the major leagues. He was in the Oakland Athletics' starting rotation his first full season.
It looked so easy. He won his first start in 1991 against the Seattle Mariners, and two of his first three decisions.
Then came the throbbing pain in his right shoulder. And the surgeries.
He had an operation at the end of the 1991 season to repair a tear in his right shoulder, and others in 1992 and '94.
Now Dressendorfer is with the Dodgers and battling to keep alive his dream of returning to the major leagues. He has pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings with three hits and five strikeouts this spring.
Dressendorfer, 27, won't make the major league staff at the season's outset, but after what the Dodgers have seen this spring, he might be the first call-up at the sign of trouble.
"I really like what I see," pitching coach Dave Wallace said.
Said Dressendorfer: "Now, for the first time in five years, my arm feels healthy again. It's as good as I've felt since college. I've waited a long time for this."
Center fielder Brett Butler played for the first time in a week since suffering a hip injury. He hopes to play three consecutive games. "I need to see if I can get my stamina back," Butler said. . . . Reliever Darren Hall, who was hit by a line drive Tuesday, was walking around Wednesday without a limp. He is expected to resume pitching today. . . . The Dodgers' season opener April 1 against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium is sold out.