George Sherrill's struggles continue to perplex the reliever and Dodgers Manager Joe Torre, but both said Thursday that they haven't lost confidence in the pitcher's ability.
Sherrill, used primarily in late relief and as setup man for closer Jonathan Broxton, sparkled in the latter half of 2009 after he was traded to the Dodgers from the Baltimore Orioles. But he's labored badly so far this season, allowing 10 earned runs, 14 hits and a dozen walks in 10 innings of work in 15 games.
The 33-year-old left-hander said he's still battling a problem with his pitching mechanics that mainly gives him trouble with right-handed batters. "My line is off, meaning my drive toward the plate," he said. "Something is a little off, so it's just a matter of getting it ironed out."
Asked whether the slow start has affected his confidence on the mound, Sherrill replied, "Not really. I know what I'm capable of, and now it's just a matter of showing it and repeating it. As soon as this gets fixed it's going to give me a shot to throw strikes consistently and be able to get that first guy out."
Torre said, "I feel for him more so than being angry with him.
"Am I losing confidence in the big picture [with Sherrill]? No. But right now, until he's sure what he can do out there it's hard for me to be sure," Torre said. "He keeps plugging. He's still trying to figure it out. The only thing I'm sure of is I know he'll be all right."
Andre Ethier entered Thursday's game leading the National League in runs batted in and batting average, and the Dodgers right fielder was tied for the lead in home runs.
If he led all three categories at season's end, it would mean winning baseball's Triple Crown, a prize so rare that it's been 43 years since a player won it. The last was Boston Red Sox's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
And it's been 73 years since a player in the National League won the Triple Crown. That was Joe "Ducky" Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1937, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.
Why is the Triple Crown so rare? Ethier -- who is batting .371 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs after winning Friday's game with a grand slam -- said it's because players are groomed either to hit for power or average, but seldom both.
"They're totally different categories," he said. "There are guys who hit .250 and have 120, 130, 140 RBIs a year, and there are guys in this league who hit .360 and only have 90 RBIs to show for it. Guys are more specifically geared toward one direction.
"Some guys are up there just trying to get base hits and get on base any way they can," he said, while others are trying to "drive the ball to the gap and get RBIs," such as Ethier.
"There is a direct correlation between home runs and RBIs, I think, but the [batting] average part can be thrown out," he said.
Could Ethier, 28, win the Triple Crown? He seemed embarrassed by the question and said only, "We're talking about [it being only] May here."
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