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DODGER REPORT

Mulholland's Not Happy With Himself

June 25, 2002|Mike DiGiovanna

As his teammates shook hands on the field after Sunday's win over Boston, Dodger reliever Terry Mulholland, who pitched the final inning, made a beeline for the clubhouse. Once there, the reliever sat and stared into his locker for a good 45 minutes.

The Dodgers had swept a three-game series from the Red Sox to move into first place in the National League West, but Mulholland, normally one of the Dodgers' most approachable players, was so distraught he declined to speak to a reporter.

After the clubhouse emptied around him, Mulholland stepped into Manager Jim Tracy's office for a closed-door meeting.

"It's been a frustrating year so far, and it kind of reached a boiling point [Sunday]," Mulholland said Monday. "When you don't know when you're going to get back out there, every little imperfection kind of compounds the situation."

With Mulholland struggling with a 9.68 earned-run average in 12 appearances, right-hander Guillermo Mota emerging as a stopper in middle relief, and starters averaging more than six innings a game, Mulholland's role has been reduced to mopping up in lopsided games.

Tracy said he hasn't lost confidence in the veteran left-hander--"I don't quit on my players," the manager said--but since coming off the disabled list in early June, Mulholland hasn't appeared in a game in which the Dodgers and their opponent were separated by fewer than three runs.

Mulholland entered Sunday's game with a 9-5 lead, issued a one-out, four-pitch walk to Rickey Henderson, gave up a single to Trot Nixon and a sacrifice fly to Nomar Garciaparra before retiring Carlos Baerga for the final out. Mulholland, 39, has given up earned runs in four of his five appearances this month.

"I'm just [ticked off] at the way I'm pitching," Mulholland said. "The walk to Henderson upset me. I feel like I've struggled all year long to get in a groove, but no matter how much you throw on the side, no matter how much batting practice you throw, it's still not a game situation."

Mulholland did not vent anger toward Tracy, though. Mulholland, who is making $3 million, gave up 12 runs and 12 hits, including five homers, in his first two appearances of the season and spent almost all of May on the disabled list because of back spasms, and he simply hasn't been very effective.

"I'm totally aware of the situation, and I accept my role," Mulholland said. "The last thing I'm going to do is put myself in front of the team. We're in first place.... I know I haven't contributed the way I can, and that's the most frustrating part of it. I've always thrived on work, but the opportunities to get things right haven't presented themselves."

Mulholland got another opportunity during Monday's 4-1 loss to Colorado, pitching a perfect ninth inning to lower his ERA to 9.16.

*

Pitcher Kevin Brown, who underwent surgery for a herniated disk in his lower back on June 11, will begin part one of a five-step rehabilitation program today.... Pitcher Darren Dreifort will face hitters for the first time since last summer's elbow reconstruction surgery when he throws batting practice before tonight's game. The next step for Dreifort, after a few batting-practice sessions, would be to throw a few simulated games, then go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment. Neither Tracy nor Dreifort will set a date for a return, but the Dodgers do expect Dreifort to pitch this season, probably in relief.

TONIGHT

DODGERS' ODALIS PEREZ

(8-3, 2.52 ERA)

vs.

ROCKIES' JOHN THOMSON

(6-6, 5.12 ERA)

Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m.

TV--Fox Sports Net 2.

Radio--KXTA (1150), KWKW (1330).

Update--Perez has been dominant in his last three starts, giving up four earned runs and 15 hits in 22 1/3 innings, striking out 19 and walking only two.

Tickets--(213) 224-1448.

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