This Texan ain't Roger Clemens

VERO BEACH, Florida-- The University of Texas is in the College World Series again. It's the 37th appearance for the Longhorns, who are to college baseball as Kentucky and North Carolina are to basketball -- perennial contenders and often champions. The school has produced numerous big leaguers of whom the most glorious is Roger Clemens. Why, the award given to the top college pitcher each year is named in his honor.

Danny Muegge (pronounced "Mew-gee") is another who pitched for the "Horns. Not that he'll claim to be another Clemens, but, then, who can? No, when your fast ball usually stays in the upper 80's at best, you won't be compared to Roger nor will you be drafted high. Danny was a 19th round choice of the Diamondbacks in 2003.

When he won 14 games for South Bend last year, though, people began to notice. The Dodgers certainly did and were able to obtain his services as one of three pitchers in the deal that sent Shawn Green to Arizona this past January.The trade was a bit shocking to Muegge; however, he's recovered nicely.

"Yes, I was surprised a little because I didn't see it coming," he admits. "But coming here wasn't as hard because I have friends here. Justin Simmons, Ryan Russ and I played together at Texas and Justin Ruggiano played against us for Texas A & M so that made it much easier."

He's adjusting to his new role, too -- sometimes a starter, sometimes in relief. "I prefer starting but I think being able to do both will help my career. I'm able to warm up quickly so relief work doesn't bother me. And I can bounce back quickly so I can pitch often."

So far, Danny's appeared in 17 games for Vero Beach, five of those as a starter, the rest out of the buillpen. He's won three with only one loss, which reflects his value to the team. His ERA is a not particularly shining 4.40, the result of a couple outings that didn't go well.

The 24-year-old righthander has been successful with a two-seam fast ball that has good movement and, "I've been able to throw my slider for strikes a lot lately and that's helped, too."

Help he has for his contributions played a part in Vero's first-half East Division title in the Florida State League. He may be even more involved as the second-half movement of players has created a vacancy in the starting rotation with the promotion of staff ace Justin Orenduff to Jacksonville.

So, if they need Muegge to step in there, he's ready. Or, he'll pitch middle relief, often unnoticed but crucial in the lower minors where the pitch counts tend to be lower so the starters depart earlier.

In all, he's shown the Dodgers he knows how to pitch. Not the flame thrower, who'll dazzle you with K's. Rather the kind who gives you some strong innings through knowledge and pitch location. That's made him a winner. And that's very much in keeping with the Texas tradition.