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Sarah's Take: Darren's long road back
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04/15/2002 02:12 am ET 
Sarah's Take: Darren's long road back
By Sarah Morris / Dodgers.Com

"Darren Dreifort loves baseball. If anyone can come back from two ligament transplant surgeries in six years, Dreifort with his fierce determination will do it."  (Jon SooHoo/Dodgers)

When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Darren Dreifort as the second pick of the 1993 Baseball Amateur Draft, both the Dodgers and Dreifort expected that he would have a memorable Major League career.

This has not been the case, but Darren Dreifort has tried his best. Arm injuries have hampered the right-hander's performance. Most players would have announced their retirement when they needed their second elbow ligament replacement surgery in six years.

Dreifort did not. He is going through the slow process of rehabilitation therapy. Many people question whether Dreifort will be able to pitch competitively again.

These people don't know Dreifort. Though Dreifort does not look like he cares much about baseball, this is totally wrong. He holds his emotions in, so only a few people know how much Dreifort loves baseball. If anyone can come back from two ligament transplant surgeries in six years, Dreifort with his fierce determination will do it.

When people believe you cannot do something, you have to believe in your own ability. In high school, I was a lousy writer. Although I had ideas and could organize them, my grammar and spelling were poor. It would take a miracle if I would be hired to write anything. However, I believed that I could improve my writing. I spent many lonely hours doing so. Like Darren, I had self-confidence and desire to prove people wrong.

Anybody who has gone through any physical therapy can imagine how much Dreifort loves baseball.

The process of physical therapy can be painful. Any injury suffered can be painful while it heals. Though surgery repairs the major injury, the body has to heal itself. The physical therapist tries to assure the injured limb has range of motion and increased strength. Although the patient knows that the physical therapist is trying to help him/her, the therapist sometimes hurts the patient.

Physical therapy is a lonely process. Last year Dreifort had company in the "Breakfast Club," which the Dodgers call the players such as Andy Ashby and Tim Bogar who worked last year with their physical therapist, Pat Screnar. However, this year Dreifort is the only Dodger who needs to work with Screnar. Dreifort must be self-motivated to do the prescribed exercises daily.

The progress of rehabilitation is slow and discouraging. Though Darren Dreifort had the ligament transplant surgery in July, it was Thanksgiving before he started throwing. Slowly the therapist is increasing the length of the throws, but Dreifort has yet to throw off a raised mound. Though Dreifort might be able to do something new today, tomorrow he might have pain or stiffness in his elbow preventing him from doing the same thing for two weeks.

Dreifort says going through this process earlier has helped him to know what to expect.
Dreifort says, "My arm feels good."

Something has changed in Dreifort's life since he went through the process in 1995. He is married and has a seven-month old son. After a long day rehabilitating his elbow, Dreifort enjoys going home and seeing his son smile.

Dreifort describes fatherhood, "It's awesome. He changes every day."

Neither Screnar nor Dreifort knows when the Dodger pitcher will return to the mound competitively. Every Dodger fan wishes Dreifort well and hopes to see him on the mound at Dodger Stadium later this summer.

Sarah Morris is the editor of Dodger Place. She lives in Anderson, Texas.
 





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