Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said this spring that what happened Monday night might never happen. General Manager Ned Colletti said the same.
But there was Jason Schmidt, pitching in his first major league game in more than two years.
Schmidt not only pitched, he overcame a nightmarish first inning to earn the win in the Dodgers' 7-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium.
"I had hoped to just go out there and make it respectable but I'm happy with the result," Schmidt said.
With a fastball that never registered above 87 mph on the stadium radar gun, Schmidt probably didn't do anything to persuade Colletti to abandon his search for another pitcher in the days leading to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Still, Schmidt had his moments, ending a frustrating 25-month period that included two shoulder surgeries and several rehabilitation assignments.
Now 36 and in the final season of an often-second-guessed three-year, $47-million contract, Schmidt held the Reds to three runs and five hits over five innings.
"Everybody was really happy for him, getting through five innings and coming out with the victory," said Torre, who wouldn't make any promises about Schmidt's immediate future.
Colletti sounded like a proud parent. "It was a long road," he said. "After all he has been through and all the hours he and the medical staff have put in, it was good to see him out there and get a win. In this day and age, a lot of people would have shut it down. He wasn't overpowering but you see he knows how to pitch and how to compete."
Not a bad start, considering the way it started.
The first inning was like something Dante might have dreamed up, as everything Schmidt threw was hit straight to, and off, the outfield walls.
Schmidt threw 35 pitches in that inning and was charged with three runs and four hits.
The first three batters in the Reds' lineup scored. The first four collected hits. The first three of those hits bounced off the fence before touching any Dodger's glove.
Willy Taveras led off by tripling off the top of the wall in left-center. When Reds Manager Dusty Baker argued that Taveras should be awarded a home run, the play became the first ever to be reviewed in Dodger Stadium using instant replay. (The initial ruling was upheld.)
Then Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled off the base of the wall in the left-field corner, and Joey Votto slammed one off the right-field fence. He was held to a single, but Hairston scored.
Still, not all of what happened in the inning was Schmidt's fault. Andre Ethier lost sight of a fly ball hit by Brandon Phillips, which landed at his feet. Phillips' single drove in Votto for the final run of the inning.
Votto had moved to third base when catcher Russell Martin tried to throw him out stealing second and threw the ball into center field instead.
But Schmidt's first-inning troubles were nothing in comparison to those of Reds starter Micah Owings.
The Dodgers countered the Reds' three-run first inning with four runs in the bottom half of the inning, the surge capped by a run-scoring single by James Loney.
Schmidt started the second inning by hitting Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan. But then he settled down.
"I didn't really do anything," he said. "Maybe I had a little better location."
Schmidt didn't give up another hit until the fifth inning.
Manny Ramirez increased the Dodgers' lead to 6-3 in the second inning with a two-run home run, his first homer at Dodger Stadium since his return from his 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy.
The same fans who booed Ramirez for not sliding to catch a foul ball by Votto rose to their feet and chanted, "Ma-nny! Ma-nny!"
The home run was the 537th of Ramirez's career, moving him into sole possession of 15th place all time. He'd been tied with Mickey Mantle.