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As seen on TV, a fix for George Sherrill

The reliever says he realized what was wrong with his delivery when he watched the Braves' Billy Wagner pitch on TV.

May 19, 2010|By Baxter Holmes

George Sherrill knew something was wrong, but not what.

This was two weeks ago. The Dodgers reliever was struggling. He had allowed 10 earned runs, 14 hits and a dozen walks in 10 innings over 15 games. His earned-run average was 9.00.

He said he would work out the kink as soon as he figured out what it was.

Then, on May 8, Sherrill turned on the Atlanta Braves' game against the Philadelphia Phillies, and he watched left-handed reliever Billy Wagner work one inning and pick up the save for Atlanta.

And Sherrill, a fellow left-hander, saw in Wagner what was wrong with himself: Sherrill's motion was off, with his arm swing long instead of short, and it was throwing off his delivery.

"I watched him throw, and I was like, 'I'm going to watch where he brings the ball out of his glove,'" he said. "And that's how I kind of fixed it."

Sherrill had allowed one hit and no runs in his five previous appearances (three innings) before Wednesday.

It was a subtle change, nothing too noticeable even during video sessions with Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Sherrill said.

"I guess it was something that, in the offseason when I started throwing again, I just started out long and it never felt wrong," Sherrill said. "It just became habit."

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said it looked like Sherrill had "too many moving parts."

"But right now," Torre added, "I'd say the last handful of appearances have been very comfortable for me and it looks like they are for him, too."

The other aspect, Torre said, is Sherrill's role. Last year when Sherrill joined the Dodgers and was used as a setup man for closer Jonathan Broxton, he shined with a 0.65 ERA in 30 games. But through his struggles, his role was changed as he tried to find his form. The team used him less frequently in the eighth inning and more in spots to help him find his way back.

Now that he seems to have found it, he might move back into his old role.

"The good part about it," Torre said, "[Sherrill] doesn't require, ego-wise, to be this guy or that guy. He just wants to help the club win."

Making progress

Torre said shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has been on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring since April 27, was running at "100%" during drills Wednesday and could be activated soon. "His best workout by far," Torre said.

Torre also said opening-day starter Vicente Padilla, who is expected to be out until June with an irritated nerve in his right forearm, threw 40 long tosses from the mound Wednesday and will throw from the mound Thursday, too.

Ramirez gets brief rest

Outfielder Manny Ramirez did not start Wednesday's game after he injured his left foot during warmups. He was replaced in left field by Reed Johnson and pinch-hit for pitcher Jeff Weaver in the fifth, striking out.

Family business

Jerry Crawford was the first-base umpire Wednesday while his brother Joe was the lead official for the Lakers-Suns Western Conference finals game at Staples Center. Both are the son of the late Shag Crawford, a longtime National League umpire.

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