03/22/10 12:30 AM ET
Dodgers release reliever Gagne
Former Cy Young winner demoted earlier this month
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
"Both sides thought at this juncture it was in Eric's best interest to see if he can find another opportunity, rather than wait until later in spring or into April if he wants to continue to pitch," said general manager Ned Colletti. "It's better that he has a couple weeks to go."
Gagne, 34, had accepted a Minor League assignment earlier this month, acknowledging that he needed more work to bring his game back to the Major League level after two years of shoulder problems that included spending last year in independent ball.
Gagne had made three Spring Training appearances for the Dodgers before being sent down, allowing six runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings for a 20.25 ERA. He pitched in one Minor League intrasquad game after his demotion.
Gagne signed a Minor League contract just before Spring Training opened for a $500,000 base salary, a 95-percent pay cut from the $10 million salary Gagne had in his last season as a Dodger. Gagne, 34, was the most prolific closer in Dodgers history and a fan favorite, a Cy Young winner in 2003, a three-time All-Star and holder of baseball's all-time record of 84 consecutive save conversions.
He single-handedly disrupted the traditional tendency of Dodgers fans leaving home games early to avoid traffic, as they preferred to stay and watch "Game Over" Gagne, who entered the field to the blaring sound of Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle"
But his career spiraled beginning with elbow surgery in 2005, then another elbow operation and back surgery in 2006, after which he left the Dodgers as a free agent. In 2007, Gagne was linked to performance-enhancing drug use when named in the Mitchell Report.
Gagne made stops in Texas, Boston and Milwaukee after leaving Los Angeles. After pitching for the Brewers in 2008, he was released during Spring Training of 2009 with a slight tear in his rotator cuff that he rehabbed without surgery.
Last year, he played for the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League as a starting pitcher/coach. In 17 starts, he went 6-6 with a 4.65 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 102 2/3 innings. Gagne originally was a starter for the Dodgers before moving to the bullpen in 2002.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.