Joel Hanrahan Ready to Put It All Together

The year 2004 was to have been one of great promise for Joel Hanrahan. After all, he had been the 2003 Southern League Pitcher of the Year, widely considered one of the best prospects in the game and a definiteng training, at least, sometime during the season.

Joe It never worked out that way. Suffering from tendinitis in his right shoulder, he never reached the mound during spring training at all, thus entering the regular season behind everybody else. He never really caught up. His 7-7 mark doesn't truly demonstrate what kind of a year it was for him at Las Vegas; the 5.05 earned run average does. But the righthander isn't one to make excuses.

"My arm felt all right for most of the season; I'm not blaming injuries for what happened. I was out there, I threw the pitches and what happened was my fault," he declares today. "The season was just average; certainly not up to my expectations."

Well, what did happen to make it go so awry ? "My mechanics were off," he explains. "There were way too many walks, too many balls hit for home runs. It seemed like I was always behind in the count."

There are those that will tell you that the Pacific Coast League in general and Las Vegas in particular is a death trap for pitchers with its high dry desert air that is conducive to balls sent into orbit. Hanrahan agrees to a point, "There's a lot of good hitters in the league and if you make a bad pitch and they hit it good, it's going out."

There are those also who'll say a season such as he endured can be very damaging to the psyche but Joel doesn't feel that happ candidate for the Dodger rotation, if not out of spriened, "No, I didn't lose my confidence. It seemed to be happening to everybody. I remember looking at one time and seeing that the league leader had an ERA about 3.50"

Not that he regards the unpleasantness as a wasted effort. "It was truly a learning experience," he agrees. And one he hopes to build on.

To make sure that this happens, he hired a personal trainer over the winter. "I've lost about 10 pounds and my body is in great shape. I threw off the mound the first day here and my arm feels fine."

"When I started throwing over the winter, we worked on my mechanics and stressed throwing to locations better, hitting the right spot four out of five times instead of every now and then."

The righthander, now 23 years old, spent the winter at home in Iowa where most of those workouts were necessarily indoors. Now, he's enjoying the Florida sun which has been shining brightly during the first days of Dodgertown practice. And planning ahead.

"Oh, it'd be great to make the staff but realistically I don't see that happening now. So, I'll go to Vegas, pitch my games and hope that, if there's a call-up during the season, I'll be ready and they'll want me."