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Dodgers pitcher Randy Wolf comes back home

Posted By Karen Young On June 28, 2009 @ 11:00 pm In Featured,Sports | No Comments

parimalrohitBY PARIMAL ROHIT

Tough gig, the life of a baseball pitcher is. Almost as if the whole world weighs on his shoulders, the pitcher is the only player on the field who is directly responsible for wins and losses. Of the 10 players (nine on defense plus the offensive batter) on the field at any given time, only the pitcher gets statistical credit for a win or loss – only the manager shares a similar fate.

Pitcher Randy Wolf

Pitcher Randy Wolf was born in Canoga Park and was a product of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

For 11 seasons, Randy Wolf accepted this otherwise overwhelming responsibility as a professional pitcher. Born in Canoga Park and a product of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, it was a responsibility that would naturally be assigned to him the day the Los Angeles Times named him High School Pitcher of the Year in 1993 and Player of the Year in 1994. It was a responsibility his current coach, Dodgers manager Joe Torre, believes Wolf takes very seriously.

“He takes his work seriously,” Torre told MyDailyFind.com in an exclusive interview. “He is a pro. I certainly have a lot of confidence in our club when he goes out there.”

It is a confidence that is certainly has foundation. Following an All-American collegiate career at Pepperdine University, where he earned West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year and All-Star honors, Wolf was a lock to ascend to the Major Leagues. Indeed, it was in 1994 when Wolf first flirted with a Major League franchise, when the Dodgers selected him in the 25th round of that year’s draft. Failing to sign with the team, Wolf was later drafted again in 1997, when the Philadelphia Phillies selected him in the second round.

Ever since, Wolf has found a way to consistently make himself relevant, earning a spot on the starting rotation with the Phillies in 1999 before finally joining the Dodgers in 2007.

Yet, he never forgot his roots to the San Fernando Valley. So, playing for his hometown team where the name “Fernando” also has great meaning is certainly special to Wolf. Speaking to MyDailyFind.com with utmost humility and modesty, the Dodgers starting pitcher explains there is nothing really separates him from the great athletes produced here in the Valley. In fact, he says the weather is really the reason why he and so many other prep athletes both here in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California have succeeded in professional sports.

Randy Wolf

Dodgers manager Joe Torre says "He takes his work seriously. "He is a pro. I certainly have a lot of confidence in our club when he goes out there." Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

“I think Southern California offers the luxury of being able to play whatever sport you want year-round,” Wolf told this writer shortly after his team dropped the rubber match of an interleague series with the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. “There has been plenty of good players who have come out of the Valley, but there has (also) been a lot of good players coming of Orange County, and even down south in the San Diego area. I just think it’s the opportunity to play all the time.”

Of course, Wolf did not always have the opportunity to shine at Dodger Stadium. After posting respectable numbers that year, including a 9-6 overall record with a 4.73 Earned Run Average in 18 starts, Wolf was not asked to return to the team in 2008. Teams still sought his services, however. After a rocky 6-10 start with the San Diego Padres, Wolf ended the season with the Houston Astros, where he finished the season with a 6-2 record while posting a 3.57 ERA.

Scouts at Chavez Ravine took note and invited Wolf to Dodgers camp during the off-season. As the news media watch the clock tick precious seconds away in the team’s courtship of slugger Manny Ramirez, Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti quietly signed Wolf to a one-year deal in order to fill out a starting rotation that lost two key players after last season’s playoff run.

Since coming back, he has been a solid player in the Dodgers’ rotation, helping the team post the best record in Major League Baseball through June 28. His 3-3 record is quite deceiving. In 16 starts, his 3.64 ERA, 70 strikeouts and 2.33 strikeout-to-walks ratio are enviable numbers for any starting pitcher to have. In fact, the 32 year-old has earned the admiration of his coach and, should he maintain his current pace, may result in him coming back next season. Yet, Wolf just attributes his solid performance this season to hard work and determination.

“Mechanically, I think things have gotten a lot more sound over the past year,” Wolf said, when asked how his game has improved since his first tour of duty with the Dodgers. “I’m also kind of doing my homework and just coming prepared for every start. That’s all you really can do as a starting pitcher.”

Randy Wolf

The Los Angeles Times named Wolf High School Pitcher of the Year in 1993 and Player of the Year in 1994. Photo: Harry How/ Getty images

Of course, since he only pitches once every five games, Wolf is quick to credit his teammates, as well, for the Dodgers performance this year.

“The team has more experience in winning and the younger guys have a couple more years under their belt,” he said.

But, according to Torre, Wolf has been quite the consummate teammate himself, bring veteran leadership to one of the youngest (and most promising) teams in baseball this year.

“Just from the short stay at spring training and watching him pitch there all the way to this point (of the season), he’s been a very good teammate,” Torre said. “He’s gone out there and shown the young kids how to go about their business. He’s been giving us a chance to win. He’s been a good veteran pitcher for us. He’s got a nice personality.”

Nice personality and veteran leadership aside, all Wolf really wants to make his professional baseball career memorable is to bring a World Series trophy to the city he calls home.

“Honestly, I don’t think there is anything too memorable,” Wolf humbly said of his 11-year career so far. Going to the playoffs and winning the World Series, that’s the one thing that I want. For me, the most memorable moments will be in the future.

“I think it’ll all make it great if we win a championship in L.A. That will be pretty special. I’d be in my home town.”

Certainly, his home town is rooting for him to win. After all, it is something special to see that a nice guy can actually win something, especially if that something is as coveted as a World Series trophy.

Parimal Rohit is an avid writer who loves covering politics, sports, entertainment and anything else under the sun.  Currently, he writes for Buzzine Magazine, Campus Circle and India West. In addition to writing full-time, Parimal is also a staff member of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. Prior to becoming a journalist, Parimal worked in sports, entertainment and criminal law. A graduate of UCLA, he  has a Master’s in Sports Management from the University of San Francisco and a law degree from Loyola Law School. Contact him parimalrohit@gmail.com

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