Just like any other bad penny, the Dodgers’ own Brad Penny keeps turning up – and nursing problems that continue to plague his performance. Saturday’s outing, in which Penny allowed seven runs on seven hits and two walks in just 3 2/3 innings, was his shortest of the season and left him sitting at 5-9 with a 5.88 ERA in 15 starts to-date.
So what’s the problem?
According to published reports, Penny was experiencing soreness in his shoulder during his pregame warm-up as well as after the game on Saturday. The 2007 NL All-Star has been experiencing discomfort all season and was sent home to undergo an MRI to determine the cause of the pain. Torre has indicated to MLB.com that it is likely that Penny will end up on the DL following the results of the exam, although the specific duration is still TBD.
All of this sidelines another Dodger veteran (albeit one who has not performed up to his talent and 2007 record this year) and forces Torre to head to the Minor Leagues AGAIN to find a prospect to bring up (assuming Penny’s stay on the DL is longer than one start). If Penny ends up being sidelined much past the all-star break, it is likely the Dodgers would opt to buy out the last year of Brad’s contract for the stipulated $2 million fee. Rolling the dice on Penny would mean taking on the risk that these mysterious shoulder pains might return and also paying up a hefty $9.25 million for the final year of his contract.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of Penny’s latest problems is that the Dodgers bats actually came alive on Saturday night, as Andre Ethier homered and had four RBIs while Loney put up a single and a pair of doubles and Young singled three times. Even Matt Kemp, back from his two-game suspension, ponied up an RBI infield single.
At this stage in his career, Penny has to decide if he can play through painful moments and synch with the offense when it counts. Saturday’s meltdown and ensuing comments from Penny appear to indicate he is reluctant to utilize all of the pitches in his arsenal when he’s hurting:
I tried to get through it. It’s the same thing that’s been going on. I thought I was over it. The last two starts were pretty good but it’s back again and I’ve just got to get it checked out…I didn’t feel good in the first inning, and I didn’t feel good in the bullpen…I feel it on every pitch, so that makes it tough. It affects everything. The big thing is location. When you know it’s going to hurt, you don’t really want to throw it.
Now the big question – who to bring up if Penny is out for the forseeable future? My thoughts on that topic tomorrow…