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